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.
SAN DIEGO – – Last week, a total of 518 young men started their first of 13 weeks of transformation, the initial phase of becoming a Marine. These young men arrived at San Diego Marine Corps Recruit Depot for a life-changing experience. The new recruits arrived on a traditional bus with their heads down, as senior drill instructor SSgt Brody V. Goldthwaite, 27, spoke loudly, almost shouting instructions at them. The recruits exited the bus quickly without speaking, heads now erect, eyes focused and hands to the side. Within minutes they were running in formation as their drill instructor barked more grueling instructions. Each recruit was required to line up on a yellow footprint which was their first lesson in learning to follow instructions. According to Goldthwaite, “the yellow footprint teaches new recruits how to stand properly.” The drill instructor’s position is to remain the key to leading young men in their quest to earn the title “Marine” through demanding training, such as close order drills, physical training, academics, combat water survival, close combat skills, marksmanship instruction, and The Crucible. All recruits are given a chance to call home to leave a generic message. This is not a social call, but an opportunity to inform their families they have arrived safely to boot camp. One recruit was asked, “How did you feel calling home?” He mentioned, “It was the hardest thing for me to do. I heard my mom cry and she told me she loved me”. He concluded saying, “I’m glad I joined the Marines because I see that I have a future now.” The majority of the new recruits are young men who are 17 years of age and probably leaving home for the first time. You can hear their voice cracking as leave a bland message while the drill instructor is yelling at them to “Hurry up!”
For many years, young men from various walks of life, from different cultures and from different nationalities have joined the Marine Corps brotherhood. For example, Cpl Jenkins attended Worthing High School in Houston, Texas; he was an All-Star high school football player. According to Coach Williams, “The NFL wanted him, but now I understand why he made his choice and I’m very proud of him.” Cpl. Jenkins stated, “I joined the Marines because I saw my mother die and she told me to get out of this area. I promised her I would do better. I have no regrets in joining the Marines. My friends back home are always telling me how different ones have died from a shooting, gang related issues. They want something different and I tell them to join the Marines.” These young men are looking for growth, development, a since of being, education, mentorship, financial stability, a future and much more. The many stages they have to encounter in becoming a Marine are called TRANSFORMATION. The transformation process begins with recruiting, continues through recruit training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depots in San Diego and Parris Island, and is sustained and reinforced throughout each Marine’s service. The Marine Corps is not changing the tried and true methods of recruit training, but enhancing those methods in pursuit of strengthening character and values. When Marines complete their service, they will return to society as better citizens than when America and their families entrusted them to the Corps. The Marines continuously reiterates to recruits and fellow officers the core values of HONOR, COURAGE, and COMMITMENT. Honor guides Marines to exemplify the ultimate in ethical and moral behavior; to never lie, cheat or steal; to abide by an uncompromising code of integrity; and to respect human dignity. It is the quality of maturity, dedication, trust and dependability that compels Marines to act responsible; to hold themselves and each other accountable for their actions and to fulfill their obligations. Courage is the mental, moral and physical strength ingrained in Marines. It carries them through the challenges of combat and helps them overcome fear. Likewise, it is the inner strength that enables a Marine to do what is right; to adhere to a higher standard of personal conduct and to make tough decisions under stress and pressure. Commitment is the spirit of selfless determination and dedication found in Marines. It leads to the highest order of discipline for individuals and units. It is the ingredient that enables 24-hour a day dedication to Corps and country. It inspires the unrelenting determination to achieve a high standard of excellence in every endeavor. The Marine Corps have enhanced recruit training by amplifying Core Values’ instruction and introducing The Crucible. A key element to the recent changes in recruit training is more time for the drill instructors to focus on character development with an emphasis on selflessness and teamwork. There are 37 hours of programmed instructions on core values. However, the most powerful values exchange may very well come from the increased one-on-one time with the drill instructors who teach and demonstrate values such as selflessness, determination, loyalty, and integrity. Once the senior drill instructor takes off his hat, he becomes more of a father figure to the young recruits to discuss sensitive issues such as sex, drugs, alcohol, stealing, and much more. After the round table discussion, the senior drill instructor transforms to his position; in his deep hard voice, he’s giving recruits instruction of what to do and where to go. The yelling and instructions did not bother them. One recruit said, “He graduated high school at 16 years old and at 17 his mom had to sign for him”. He also mentioned, “This experience has matured me and taught me how to be a man and handle my responsibility.” He has one year of college and plans to get married. “The Crucible” is the manifestation of intangible values, training that has taken place earlier in recruit training. The Crucible is a grueling 54-hour evaluation of a recruit’s physical, mental, and moral fitness, both as an individual and a member of a team. This event takes place during the eleventh week of training. It is a series of eight events revolving around obstacles, warrior stations, movement courses, and reaction problems tackled over a grueling 40-mile course. To add to a rigorous course, they are sleep- and food-deprived, which is primarily designed to develop teamwork and camaraderie through shared hardship. At the end of The Crucible, each recruit is given the United States Marine Corps official emblem: The Eagle, Globe, and Anchor. The emblem is composed of an eagle with its wings spread representing the United States of America. It is shaped like a globe showing the western hemisphere, and it represents world-wide service. The anchor on the emblem represents the Corps’ naval tradition. Each recruit is presented with the official emblem by their senior drill instructor. With this symbolic exchange, a young man or woman is now called a Marine for the first time. These are emotional times for each young man and woman because they are not just becoming soldiers; they are being transformed into Marines.
SAN DIEGO — Since October 2008, U.S. Marine Sergeant Xavier Bynum has recruited 67 young men and women from the Houston area to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps. Forty-three of them have already arrived at the San Diego Marine Recruiting Depot where approximately 19,000 recruits become Marines annually. The male recruits living west of the Mississippi River go to San Diego and all female recruits go to Parris Island, NC for the 13-week intensive boot camp. Christopher Weikel, 19 of Kingwood said, “I came to the Marines because this is my thing to do for my country. Most of my family has become Marines, my grandfather is a retired Capitan.”
With his new Eagle, Globe and Anchor emblem (the official US Marine Corps insignia), following boot camp, Weikel plans to take combat training in North Carolina and study to become a combat engineer. “I will stay as long as I can. Basic training was lots of hiking,” he said. Forty-two weeks out of the year, the San Diego Marine Corps Recruiting Depot (MCRD) graduate recruits like Weikel, certifying them as Marines where they do a lot more than forced walking.
Bynum said, “My recruits show up because I look for young men and women who could be a successful recruit and then a Marine. Bynum, one of 77 Houston area recruiters, also said that he works with youth ages 18 and 19 to prepare them for what it will take to become a successful recruit. He and his recruits can be seen doing physical workouts once a week at Martin Luther King, Jr. and Cullen Parks. He said that they run, do pull ups and crunches to prepare them for the strenuous routines required in the Marine Corps Basic Camp.
Trever Pierce, 19, of Arlington, TX also said that he joined the Marines for his country. Pierce said, “I joined because of my country. It is the least I could do for what it has done for us in the past. I feel the need to become something greater than I am, a more disciplined person.” Pierce said that he would get additional training for the infantry. “I like to be on the front line,” the Summit High School graduate said of serving in the infantry.
Bynum accompanied 34 area educators on their Educators Workshop trip to San Diego. With an all volunteer military, this branch for the past 20 years has taken the first-hand-look approach at providing an up-close view at the US Marine Corps by bringing high school counselors, principals, and teachers to the Marine Corps Recruiting Depot. Houston educators participated in the five-day exercise by role playing at a far lighter level of intensity than the true Marine will endure.
“We work to get educators and community influencer such as mayors, judges, and elected officials to pass information on to the students and let the public know what the Marines do. Teachers can tell students about the opportunities in the Marine Corps,” said Sergeant Bobbie Curtis.
Staff Sergeant, Antonio Flores, Jr. 34, a 14-year Marine Corps Veteran who has been deployed on five missions including Iraq, Narobi, Kenya, Lima Peru, Yerem, Armenia and Japan, was the drill instructor (DI) for the Houston educators and with each opportunity, he diligently explained the core values of the US Marine Corps of “honor, courage, and commitment.” During each bus ride to and from the staging areas, he used it as an opportunity to give details about Marine Corps life. DI Flores, a Jackson, N.J. native said, “I’ve always wanted to follow law enforcement. I read the history of the Marines as a young man and wanted to be a part of the Few and the Proud.” The proud Marine said, “If I ‘m going to die for my country, so that my family can have a better life, I might as well do it with the Marines, the best.” Flores is married to a Marine and they have two children.
Regarding the educators workshop, he said, “I love interacting with people, my wrestling coach and Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) pushed be to do better and all the achievements I have accomplished comes from the diverse nature of the Marines.” Flores believes that the educators can share information that can guide the students in discussions when they talk to them about what they want to become. “Yes, it will be hard. However, they can tell the students what they need to know by having a better understanding of what they are talking about. You can see the light bulb go off with some of the educators during the workshop,” said Flores.
There is success in recruiting in Texas because it is a patriotic state according to Marine Corps officials. Major Jason A. Borovies, 34, the Commanding Officer for the Houston Recruiting Station said, “Texans are patriotic and have a tradition of service and Houston has the third largest veterans community in the country.” Borovies believes that the Educators Workshop is essential to recruiting in an all volunteer military, “It helps to tell the Marine Corps story as less than 1% of Americans have been a Marine and this workshop helps pass the message on to people who are influential and are educators about the Marines,” he said.
After the educators’ experience, they are more willing to allow the recruits on campus to talk with the students according to Major Borovies.
Selection of the 2011 class of MCRD educators came from an applicant pool of 140-200 with 40 being selected to participate and 34 actual attendees from the Houston area. Borovies, who has overseen three such classes, said that the 2011 class was the best. He said, “These educators were the best of the three. They were more engaged, participated more, talked with the recruits, cheered on each other, and asked the DI many questions.”
“Whether they [new recruits] realize it or not, they are learning teamwork and building bonds for the future during their 13 weeks of boot camp,” said Col. Stevens.
Danielle Hubbard, 31, a former Air Force recruit and a Teach for America Geometry in Alief Independent School District instructor said, “I came on the trip to learn more about the Marines and how they can be a help to our students. Justice of the Peace Judge Sallie Gonzalez, of Harlingen, TX said, “This experience will help me as I see so many children in my court for various misconduct. I will be able to help by working with them to clear their records so that the Marines can be an option for them.”
Brigadier General Daniel D. Yoo, Commanding General, Marine Corps Recruit Depot/Western Recruiting Region/Marine Corps Recruiting Command told the educators, that it was important to educate the public at-large about the Marines, to sit down and talk about the voluntary force. “This is the same thing that we do for congressional members. We discuss the cost of defense of the nation and as we draw down in Afghanistan from hard power to soft power, we must be prepared, have a common bond and commitment to the country,” said the veteran. The General discussed further the assimilation process for the recruits emphasizing that the contact with the recruits are “unfiltered” and they are unfiltered spokesman who fight for their country and have a mentor-mentee relationship with their DI who gives them guidance and teaches team building through a transformation process. Ending his statement to the educators, he said, “We are your Marine Corps.”
Sergeant Major Sylvester D. Daniels, Sergeant Major Marie Corps Recruit Depot/Western Recruiting Region, a Jackson, TN native said, “The Marine Corps offer something different, pride, self confidence and leadership. These are things that will make a better person. They are the intangibles. We rock.”
David Winfiele, a Sam Houston Math, Science, and Technology special education co-teacher and world history 10th grade instructor said, “I was impressed that in so short of time each recruit internalizes the Marine Corps core values of honor, courage, and commitment. This is done by the mentor-mentee relationship between the drill instructor and the recruits in his platoon.” Houston new Marine, Private First Class Paul Garza, 19, said, “It was hard, it was hard. It was the best experience that I have had. It was tough on all of us. But the DI took care of me. He took care of all of us.”
Chaplain Robert Peters of the third Battalion advised the educators of CARE, which are Counseling, Advice, Religious Aspect, and Everything. Peters, a Ph.D. Chaplin explained that there are 17 religious services per week that covers all dominations and beliefs the Marines desire. William Jeffery, 9-year science teacher and 4-year head basketball coach at Jefferson Davis High School in the Houston Independent School District said, “I have learned a lot of things on a lot of different levels at this Educators Workshop. For instance, the influence educators have on students, meeting the soldiers. I think that I am doing more good than I thought I was doing with my students. The workshop gave me a greater awareness of the role I play within my community and I understand it.”
The United States Marines Corps was organized during the second Continental Congress in 1775. Its first amphibious landing raid was in 1776 in the Bahamas. Marines have served in the War of 1812, Mexican War, Civil Was, Spanish American War, World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm and Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts.
The 388 acre Marine Corps Recruiting Depot base with 367 acres of tidal area are responsible for providing basically trained Marines to be prepared when the nation calls. For their serve the nation provide tuition assistance, the Montgomery GI Bill, Marine Corps College Fund, Continuing Education, Marine Corps Institute distance learning program and Officer Commissioning Programs. When injured while on duty service, health benefits are provided at veteran hospitals such as the DeBakey Hospital in Houston. Deceased Marines have the option to be buried in military cemeteries such as Veteran Memorial Cemetery in North Houston.
The educators witnessed the graduation ceremony recognizing the 13-weeks of basic training of the young men west of the Mississippi River, many of whom were their students a year ago like Marines Miss. Lott from Sterling High School and Mr. Jenkins from Worthing High School.
Brigadier General Daniel D. Yoo, Commanding General, Marine Corps Recruit Depot/Western Recruiting Region/Marine Corps Recruiting Command in San Diego.
The Houston Youth and Recreation Programs asked the City of Houston to readopt their standards of care as written in Article XII, Chapter 32, of the Code of Ordinances, Houston, Texas, in compliance with Section 42.041(b) of the Texas Human Resource Code. The recommendation passed as Councilwoman Wanda Adams spoke on their relationship with the Houston Parks and Recreation, which is in good standing. Houston Youth and Recreation will participate in the Back to School Drive held this weekend by the Mayor’s office. The Summer Enrichment program ends Friday August 5th, but the After School Program starts up September 6th. Crime Lab: Applied Biosystems, LLC requested a purchase of forensic chemicals and test kits for HPD at a price of $1,619,951.62. The Houston crime lab has been plagued with reports of faulty findings and poor procedures. With this request they are asking the city for a five-year commitment that council members seem leery about. Councilman C.O. Bradford wanted to know what the long run plan is for the crime lab and requested a plan to solve the issues with the crime lab. Councilwoman Jones agreed, also saying the crime lab is problematic. “It’s really dangerous,” Councilwoman Jones said. The purchase was passed, but Councilman Bradford said he still wanted a plan. Drainage and Retention Ponds: TIRZ 17 requested that the City of Houston approve $ 22 million of TIRZ money to build three retention ponds in the Memorial City zone. But residents of the Spring Branch Memorial attested to this construction for they have severe flooding in their neighborhoods and the retention ponds may cause more stress than relief. The 8-acre retention pond TIRZ has planned is designed to keep three of the drainage zones 140,151 and 153 interconnected producing an automatic spill off once overflowed. “Detention is a huge issue in this city,” said Councilwoman Jolanda Jones. Jones spoke strongly about the need to relieve the residents of Spring Branch of their flooding problems and she said persons like, for example, 76-year old Robert Bruce, who was present shouldn’t have to beg but should be considered for what he said. This project is still under consideration.