Black Friday makes landfall, recruits survive

When exercise becomes emotional

The initial strength test marks the beginning of their physical capability in the Corps. Friday morning, probably before most of you were out of bed, Golf Company recruits were lined up platoon by platoon to show they have what it takes to begin training.

You would never imagine how terrifying this day can be, especially for those who can barely make the cut. The pressure is on from the very first speech that summarizes every detail on performing the exercise correctly. The IST consists of running, pull-ups and crunches. As training goes on, this test continues to get harder and will be known as the Physical Fitness Test (PFT).

After observing the recruits, the tension in their expressions was strikingly noticeable. I am assuming it was because they knew that everything they have completed up until now could all be put on hold if they didn’t pass each event.

I know I didn’t mention this before, but your recruits can be dropped from training before ever making it to “training.” I guess I was trying to save you some sleep at night, but good news is, only one recruit was dropped to another company (You would know by now if this was your recruit, so you can stop freaking out).

The recruits probably won’t remember this, but their Senior Drill Instructors actually show up for this portion to get a look at who they will be training. The first DIs they actually met from receiving are not the same DIs that will train them for 12 weeks.

Anyway, DIs have an eye for dedication and drive. Why is that important? Because that 1 dropped recruit could have been 8.

Believe it or not, drill Instructors don’t want your sons to fail — they’d rather have them excel. And here is proof: eight recruits actually failed the IST. The SDI can keep recruits that they believe can improve in a short amount of time, and the commander will sign a waiver for them.

The Wolves are at the Door

The best way for you to understand Black Friday is for me to compare it to a hurricane. I picked this natural disaster because those who have never experienced one really don’t know the damage it can do. Hurricanes can produce tornados, extremely high-tides and flooding. It’s an all-for-one natural disaster. By the time it’s over, it can leave people mentally and physically exhausted.

Receiving, the days leading to pick-up, can be thought of as the calm before the storm. During this time, things can get hectic preparing for what’s about to come, but overall it’s a waiting game until what, or who, is about to make landfall.

Finally, the recruits are ready to make it to their squad bay, a very large open room with bunk beds. For the next 12 weeks, they will call this area “home.” It will be a long time before it actually feels that way.

I observed every recruit enter their house. They were all beside themselves, kind of like lost dogs; they wouldn’t look at you if you paid them to, trying to stay out of trouble. As a matter of fact, they wouldn’t look at anything that wasn’t straight forward. More than half of them forgot how to walk as they tripped over their own feet and each other as they missed the step up to the walkway. It seemed as if they had been stripped of their abilities to think and act on their own.

After making head calls, or more commonly known as the bathroom, they were seated on the deck (floor), covered and aligned to the person in front of them and the person to their right. They were only moments away from meeting the makers of Marines they will never forget.

The chief drill instructor gives them a quick brief before the series commander gives the SDI the command to train them into the few, the proud, the Marines.

The storm finally hits. The noise alone is enough to make you want to leave. Almost 90 recruits yell at the top of their lungs, but it will never be loud enough. Drill instructors run up and down the squad bay like cheetahs on prey. Gear is everywhere as if a tornado ripped through middle, leaving only a path of despair. And just when you think it’s over, you realize you’re only in the eye of the storm. All they can do is just stand tall because what just happened is going to happen all over again.

The day was long, but a lot was learned from the experience. Teamwork was probably the most important. If they never believed that two heads are better than one, they do now.

Over this weekend, the house stayed pretty quite as far as training goes. Simple knowledge is learned about getting on line, standing fire watch, counting off, house procedures, etc. Sunday they will have the opportunity to partake in religious services.

Free time will be awarded on Training Day 1, this is their time to write letters home. Keep your fingers crossed.

Get some

Did you know that Drill Instructors have a belt structure to abide by? Black shiny belts distinguish Senior Drill Instructors, while the other drill instructors wear green belts with gold buckles.

The Senior Drill Instructor is in charge of all the drill instructors within his platoon. He will most likely give his commands to the “J.” The J (which stands for junior) will pass the command to the 3rd and 4th hat.

So in their structure in a nutshell: The senior, then the J, then the 3rd hat, followed by the 4th.

When your recruits write you, they may only mention their senior as their senior. Everyone else will probably be described as: mean, meaner and meanest.


Today the recruits are issued rifles. Sometime during training, they may be required to memorize the rifleman’s creed. Check it out for yourself.

Just another side note

For the parent who’s recruit was dropped: Don’t sweat it. So you think it’s unfair that your son was dropped. I understand where you are coming from. However, in my opinion (and though you may not agree now) they are actually doing that recruit a favor. This extra time spent improving his physical fitness will put him ahead of his peers when he picks up again. AND because he will already know the process, there is a good chance he could start off as the guide. I am sure you will send him some encouraging words, as he probably needs those now more then ever.

[Editors Note: Opinions expressed are not to be considered an official expression of the DoD, DoN, or the USMC.]

This entry was posted in Pick-Up, Recruit Training by echo5fox. Bookmark the permalink.

About echo5fox

Sgt. Frasier enlisted in the Marine Corps July 2005 from Florida at the age of 18. After completing boot camp at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, she proceeded to Marine Combat Training in North Carolina. In 2006, she attended the Personnel Administration Course aboard Camp Johnson, N.C. She was stationed at Camp Lejeune upon graduation of her military occupational specialty. After deploying to Iraq with 3/10 in 2008, Sgt. Frasier reenlisted with the option to lateral move into another occupation, combat correspondent. Sgt. Frasier has worked at The Globe, the base newspaper aboard Camp Lejeune; The Convoy, the group circular for 1st Marine Logistics Group and The Chevron, the base paper for Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego. Sgt. Frasier served as the Community relations and Media noncommisioned officer in charge for the Public Affairs Office aboard the depot. Currently she is the Marketing and Public Affairs Director for Recruiting Station Chicago, 9th Marine Corps District. Her awards include the National Defense Service Ribbon, Global War on Terrorism, Good Conduct Medal (2), Iraqi Campaign Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (2) and the Navy Unit Commendation Medal.

27 thoughts on “Black Friday makes landfall, recruits survive

  1. Thank you so much for this blog. My son is in “Marine Week” with Fox Co. We are so excited, we can hardly stand it 🙂 Im sure he is also !! Its good to see what he went through to earn this title. In one way, Im glad I didnt know till after the fact, how difficult it was for him. You know its going to be hard, but you cant really imagine how hard till you see it for yourself. Watching these videos makes me all the more proud of my Marine and his fellow brothers who fought hard to earn the title, United States Marine. Semper Fi.

  2. Hello Marines,

    Thank you for posting all of this. This brings back many fond memories. I was in Plt 2096 back in 1975. I look forward to following your platoon to the end. Good luck. Semper Fi. Cpl Dave Korst

  3. Again Thank you so much to an in dept insite to what our young men are going through, even though tough to hear as a Mother.. I would rather know specifically what to pray for all the young men and for the DI”s too… again Thank you so much for your help!

  4. I am enjoying reading this blog. I try to imagine what my son is going though by the vivid discriptions your provide. I want to thank you again and look forward to the next one.

  5. Any possibility that there were footage from two different Golf Companies used? The August 25th group and maybe the Golf Company that came in May 9th? The kid on the far side doing pullups at the beginning of this video looks exactly like my brother from Plt 2141 Golf Company!

      • Can we see more PLEASE!! My son is in Golf co. Plt 2156. He has lots of brother and sisters that miss him and it feels better to know we can see these. Thank you so very much, Ham family

  6. Another great article and video! Thank you so much for this glimpse into our recruits’ daily lives. Will you be following all the platoons in Golf Company, or just the one in today’s video? Either way, it’s a fabulous resource and I’m immensely grateful to you!

    • I will try to hit every platoon at least once, however, I have to follow the commands of the Company First Sgt. and Chief Drill Instructors.

      • Wonderful news! Thank you so much! I can’t express how grateful I am to you for this blog!

  7. Thank you! I have been able to capture a glimpse of my son in both your posted videos. It is so awesome to be able to follow him through his journey! You are an angel! Thank you for what you are doing and thank you for your service to our country!!!

  8. I know it has been said many times but I thank you as well for these blogs. It is so hard when the child you have loved raising is now gone and you have NO contact what so ever!!! I like having an idea of what he is doing and appreciate knowing that the letters could possibly come later this week! Thank you for all you do and for helping my son become a Marine 🙂

  9. Thank you, Sgt Fraiser for your commitment and for giving us a glimpse into what it takes to become a Marine. I look forward to your next entry.
    May the Lord bless them and keep them all healthy and strong.

  10. Thank you so much as a mom, we do understand that you are making them men, strong men, God Bless and keep the stong, healthy and focused.

  11. Thank you from another mom. We have spent most of our lives protecting our sons and daughters, and now they’re learning to protect us. I appreciate the time you are taking to do this for us. You all are such a blessing 🙂

    • As I have said before, seeing your loved ones is not guaranteed. Platoons train as a series, your BF is in lead series. Keep checking back.

  12. Thank you Sgt Fraiser even though I didnt see my son it is a great comfort to know who is DIs are and watching Golf Company plt 2156 on Black Friday was a real treat my son just turned 18 on the 1st of Sept. and it was a big help to his mother to be able to see his platoon. Like most are son didnt get a hold of us on the phone so we were worried like all parents. Until he sent his letter but like I said thank you for your dedication to filming these young men God bless and Love you Joshua Law PLT 2156 FOREVER.

  13. Thank you Sgt Frasier! I appreciate your description of our sons’ experience in boot camp and your explination of Marine terminology. I feel more connected with my son because of what you are doing. I can be more supportive and understanding in my correspondence which will undoubtedly motivate him and increase his confidence. You are contributing to the transformation. Thank you. A proud mom PLT 2155

  14. “Sympathy constitutes friendship; but in love there is a sort of antipathy, or opposing passion. Each strives to be the other, and both together make up one whole.” ~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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