Company G recruits face their fears
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    Exclamation Company G recruits face their fears

    MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO —The Marine Corps did not promise Company G recruits a rose garden. Instead, the Marine Corps promised that they would earn the title Marine through sweat and determination.

    During the final obstacle in boot camp, the Crucible, Company G recruits tested their mental and physical limits on the field confidence course, Sept. 10 at Edson Range, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif.

    The field confidence course is made up of four obstacles: Baptista’s Challenge, Stairway to Heaven, Skyscraper and the line bridge. Recruits begin each obstacle by reading a medal citation about a former Marine or sailor who went above and beyond the call of duty.

    The obstacles consist of a scenario similar to that of the past heroes who recruits read about at each obstacle.

    Known as the Weaver, Baptista’s Challenge is a series of parallel logs that incline to a peak before declining to the other side. Recruits must go over and under each log to accomplish the obstacle while carrying ammunition cans filled with dirt to simulate the weight of real ammunition.

    “Trying to fight through being tired and hungry makes these obstacles challenging,” said Recruit Mackenzie Wiltf, Platoon 2156. “But if we don’t challenge ourselves, then we aren’t bettering ourselves. After we face one challenge, we move on to the next bigger obstacle. We get better and better as we go along.”

    The Stairway to Heaven is the next obstacle where recruits climb a 30-foot ladder to the top and down the opposite side.

    “This course helps recruits face their fear of heights,” said Sgt. Anthony Hodge, drill instructor, Platoon 2155. “It helps them become more confident, which is important for a Marine. A more confident Marine is capable of taking charge of situations and making decisions that count.”

    Recruits then face the Skyscraper, a three-level tower they must scale to save a simulated wounded teammate known as Fred the dummy. After recruits reach Fred at the top level of the tower, they must improvise a method for bringing him safely to the ground.

    Finally, recruits tackle the line bridge, which is two ropes spanning from one platform to the next. Recruits are required to cross to the other side while carrying supplies.

    “It takes a lot of teamwork to finish all these obstacles,” said Lance Cpl. Raymond Guess, field instructor, Weapons and Field Training Battalion. “They cannot do it alone. They kept arguing at first and were accomplishing nothing. They soon realized they had to work together if they wanted to get anywhere.”

    During Crucible obstacles, some recruits are appointed as squad leaders for the first time in boot camp. Hodge said the opportunity is effective in bringing out leadership skills for the recruits.

    “It also makes for some unusual ways of how recruits complete the obstacles,” said Guess, a combat veteran who served twice with 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines in Ramadi, Iraq.

    Recruits can also make mistakes. Each obstacle has red painted areas designated as kill zones. If a recruit touches these areas, they are “dead.”

    Recruits can also be “killed” for falling asleep while providing security for their teammates as they conduct the obstacles. Recruit Timothy Arms, Platoon 2155, learned this lesson firsthand.

    “I set my head down on my rifle then next thing I knew my eyes were closed,” said Arms, from North Ranch, Mich. “It could get my friends killed in combat. So now, I have a date with Fred for the rest of the course to help give me insight to not fall asleep. We have to do this every time we mess up.”

    The lessons recruits learn from their training will better prepare them for combat, but ultimately, will help mold them into better leaders, concluded Guess.

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    IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY LATE HUSBAND, SSgt Roger A. Alfano, USMC
    ONE PROUD MARINE
    1961-1977
    Vietnam 1968/69
    Once a Marine...Always a Marine

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