San Diego — The United States Marine Corps allowed teachers from the Greater Houston area, Port Arthur, San Antonio and from other cities in Texas to have a transparent look into the creation process of one of the finest militaristic divisions of the United States.
The Houston Sun was invited to participate in this event and view the intake process of new recruits at the Marine Recruit depot in San Diego. On sprawling land that encompasses valleys and hills sit various buildings such as barracks, training facilities, a cafeteria, a museum and various stores. The depot is home to many Marines and there is everything possibly needed right there on base. But the building we visited the first night is a very special building all on its own. It is a building all recruits that come through the Marine Recruit Depot San Diego first have to stand outside, on the brink of a new-life altering experience. An experience they are choosing that will mold them into the men they will be for the rest of their lives.
The recruits arrive on a white bus that has Marines written in bright red paint on the side. A drill instructor runs on the bus with a booming voice that could snap anyone out of a coma spewing orders that he very well expects to be carried out with volume, speed and intensity. The young boys file out the bus so fast, eyes wide, hearts and minds racing. There are four rows of yellow footprints that extended horizontally that each young man has to stand in. Three drill instructors walk through and blast volumes of commands at the recruits while they are taught the proper form of attention. After orders have been rendered they are filed back onto another set of footprints and shuffled in to a large room with red cubicles. The recruits stand at attention in a nervous daze, wondering most likely what’s next?
What’s next will be the thought of these young men for the next thirteen months before they are called a Marine.
This quote is on the wall of the receiving building at the depot and it states , “ The Transformation”
“Who you are when you join is not nearly as important as who you become.”
Who will these young men of 18, 19, 20- years of age become once they have completed thirteen intense physical, mental and emotional weeks of recruit training by some of the finest Marines America has to offer?
For five days, the Houston Sun staff members were able to get that “behind the curtains look at the Marine corps training,” said Chief Drill Instructor Brody Goldwaite. But we also were able to access educators, counselors and coaches and witness the atmosphere of military life and how they could incorporate their experience into their schools.
“Unfortunately, for some students this is their salvation,” said Patricia Benton, a counselor at Spring Wood High School in the Spring Branch. “ It becomes important for them to learn a trade, career and college opportunities for a better life and future. So I am here to learn how they turn recruits into Marines and have a first-hand experience to explain to students.”
A tour of Camp Pendleton, Miramar, and the Recruit Depot showed us where these boys slept, rooms that were as tidy and clean as anyone could ever imagine. The clothes issued, we even heard the last phone call home to their family before they were headed off to the last moments with their hair. Stripped of everything tangible from their civilian life these young men are kept awake for 24 hours straight before they are allowed sleep once they arrive. Will they have what it takes to become The Few, The Proud?
These new recruits will train everyday diligently to become fearless and strategic. Water training that only a Marine could brave for the obstacles seem so daunting. Yet I saw young men diving from the highest platforms I’ve ever seen into pools that seem bottomless after only attempting once prior. There were also classes and Mixed Martial Arts Marine style, Bayonet training, Rifle and Arms training for all Marines are Riflemen. The regimen is vigorous but it is beyond just physicality. The mental evolution these recruits will have is the true test and what will help them become a part of an elite group of servicemen.