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08-26-07, 07:23 AM #1
Marine recruits leave their old lives behind
Published August 25, 2007 10:30 pm - SAN DIEGO — Watching recruits go through boot camp brings to mind the old metaphor about making sausage: You like it, but you don’t want to know the process it goes through.
10:30 p.m.: MARINES: Strangers in a strange land: Marine recruits leave their old lives behind
SAN DIEGO — Watching recruits go through boot camp brings to mind the old metaphor about making sausage: You like it, but you don’t want to know the process it goes through.
Young men from all corners of the western half of the United States (East Coast recruits go to Parris Island, S.C., as do all female recruits) stood around the United Services Organization Aug. 6 waiting for the Marine Corps buses to arrive and take them to the depot, which has been around since 1921 and trained a half million recruits alone during World War II.
Adam Pinkerton, 18, from Huntington, Ind., said he wasn’t too nervous. “But I know that will change when I get on the bus.”
He said he joined for the reason many of the recruits give. “I wanted a challenge. I want to do combat support.” When asked if he worried about the conflict in Iraq, he said, “The war doesn’t worry me.”
Tim Hroma, 19, Chesterton, Ind., harked back to Sept. 11 for his reason to join.
“I’ve wanted to be a Marine ever since the attacks. I’ve been waiting a long time.”
The wait was over when a drill instructor, Sgt. Murch, sporting a black eye patch, came in and told the young men that if they wanted to be Marines, they would get outside — right now — and fall in by the bus. The USO emptied out — right now.
“Get on the bus,” said Murch. “Drop those two yellow packages (their orders) on the first two seats. Move quickly.”
When the new recruits arrived at the depot, their heads were lowered.
Gunnery Sgt. Rafael Vargas was waiting at the receiving building. The plaza in front of the building was marked with yellow foot prints as Vargas, joined by Sgt. Anthony Soehagen, climbed into the two buses to let the recruits know they were in a different world.
“Get off my bus,” they yelled. “Right now. Quickly.” The recruits were directed to the yellow foot prints. “You stand on those footprints, aye aye sir.” The recruits responded, a little timidly, “Aye aye, sir.”
“You yell as loud as you can, ‘Aye aye, sir,’” screamed Soehagen. “AYE AYE, SIR,” the recruits yelled.
The footprints were lined up four deep as recruits ran to fill in one row, then the next. What they were carrying, they placed on the ground.
“You hold your arms straight out, make a fist with your thumbs sticking up. Then you put your arms by your side,” said Vargas getting the recruits to stand at attention.
08-26-07, 07:31 AM #2
Published August 25, 2007 10:23 pm - SAN DIEGO — The Marine drill instructor is the first person recruits meet when they arrive at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego. The DI screams and gets in the faces of the frightened boots.
10:22 p.m.: MARINES: What is a DI and why is he saying those awful things?
SAN DIEGO — The Marine drill instructor is the first person recruits meet when they arrive at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego. The DI screams and gets in the faces of the frightened boots.
To be a DI, a seasoned Marine spends 12 weeks at school, which is held in San Diego. Some DIs will stay there; others will be dispatched to the East Coast Marine Recruit Depot at Parris Island, S.C. All female recruits go to Parris Island.
One DI said going through that training is similar to going back to boot camp. There are four classes per year with about 60 prospective DIs in each class. The attrition rate is 15 to 20 percent.
Being a DI is not for everybody. They are taught to be firm but fair and demanding.
Col. Mark Callahan, the chief of staff at the recruit depot in San Diego, said that recruits will give up on themselves before the DIs will.
“Recruits will get to the point of layin’ down on you,” he said. “But the DI doesn’t give up on the recruit. It’s hard work.”
In a 1957 movie, Jack Webb, who later gained fame as Sgt. Joe Friday in the television series “Dragnet,” memorably portrayed a DI who didn’t give up on a recruit who went over the hill.
Ninety-five percent of the DIs in San Diego have combat experience, according to Callahan. They’ve been to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Sgt. Melvin Newlin is 26, only a few years removed from the recruits in his charge. The St. Francis, Ill., native watched as his recruits went through the Leadership Reaction Course, where they work together to solve problems. If they don’t solve them, they have to “drag Fred,” a 70-pound dummy, out to the firing range.
“I just love draggin’ Fred,” said a weary recruit after failing an obstacle.
“I change people,” said Newlin. “A lot (of recruits) want to quit, just give up and go home. They might be missing home. I talk to them about the core values (honor, courage and commitment). I give them a fatherly figure.”
And he’s 26.
His combat experience has come in handy.
“I teach them to pay attention to detail, that the little things matter. It’s discipline.”
09-13-09, 02:09 PM #3
My recruiter told me that you'll hate your DI's while in boot but on graduation day, you'll be thanking them.
06-27-10, 04:21 PM #4
i cant wait to encounter this change. but im still a little nervous
09-17-10, 04:14 PM #5
I haven't DEP'd in yet because I just had surgery but ever since I was in high school I've wanted to take my turn standing on those yellow footprints, I can't wait to get there and have a chance to earn the title and honor.
03-31-11, 01:14 AM #6
07-21-11, 01:27 PM #7
it's so strange my original recruiter's name was Vargas. Only he was a Staff Sergeant....
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