Team Week

This week gives recruits a chance to enhance the quality of life aboard the installation for those who work there and future recruits.

They spend a lot of time during the week beautifying the base or assisting other Marines or employees in their daily tasks, whether it is at the recycling area or at the Recruit Training Regiment. The same also applies for those recruits who stay back at Camp Pendleton.

Personally, this week seemed to be a bit of a break, at least for the drill instructors. Although they were still with the recruits most of the day, it was easy on them because others were occupying the recruit’s time. Don’t get me wrong though, it’s still not the average lazy day you may be thinking of, but for boot camp both parties get a nice break from each other.

More importantly the recruits are finally in 3rd Phase and sooner than not they will be the senior company aboard the depot.

Uniform Fitting
There has been a huge change in the recruits as far as attitude goes and their individual personalities are coming back around. One thing they all have in common though is the pride and confidence they display. This was the first thing I noticed when I walked in on them in mismatched uniforms while they were preparing them for alterations. Nothing but smiles, at least when they DIs weren’t watching.

It didn’t matter to them that they were wearing delta trousers (blue) with and alpha coat (green). They were just ecstatic to be wearing one of America’s most respectable uniforms.

A while back I mentioned talking about the different aspects of the uniform and how they have different meanings. The blood stripe is sewn on to the delta trousers after being promoted to a Corporal (E-4). It is said that we wear this blood stripe in honor of those who were involved with Chapultepec.

Series Commander Inspection
This is another inspection to challenge the recruits on the knowledge they have retained as well as test their bearing, inspect the upkeep of their uniforms and their progression of rifle manual.

Much like the senior drill instructor inspection, the recruits prepared for this thoroughly and were formed into platoons standing tall waiting for the series commander.

It is certainly not as intense as the SDI inspection as the chaos involved is not the same. But I feel as though the recruits are just as nervous because they have someone much higher to answer to. Typically every recruit will fail the Senior Drill Instructor Inspection and not every recruit will fail the Series Commander Inspection. This inspection will help prepare them for the Battalion Commanders Inspection.

I want to take a minute to recognize the importance of inspections. Let’s use a uniform inspection for example. Usually a staff noncommissioned officer will tell a junior Marine to perform an inspection. In return the SNCO will inspect the final product after all discrepancies have been fixed. The reason they do this is because in the event a Marines uniform is unserviceable or incorrect. That Marine will be corrected on the spot, but then they will also confront the SNCO or officer and ask why their Marine is out of uniform and then guess what… Know that old saying sh*t roles down hill? It does.

Marine Corps benefits
Marines join the military for different reasons. I have been a from
coast to coast and part of several different units and I here the same thing over and over again from junior Marines. They all ask, where are these benefits I was promised?

When I joined, my recruiter pulled out these little tags. I think there were probably about 14 of them. He said to me “Of these tags, what do you want to do with your future?”

I picked education, travel and I think financial stability. He said to me “the Marine Corps can give you all these things, you just have to go out and get it. The Marine Corps won’t just hand it to you, but it’s there.”

He wasn’t lying, but it was his advice about going out and getting it that’s important. Junior Marines don’t realize it at first because everything is pretty much do as I say until they start picking up rank. No one is going to say “go to the education center and get tuition assistance for that class you want to take.” Nor will they say “you should request an individual augment billet with a Marine Expeditionary Unit so you can travel to other countries.”

So do your kids recruiter a favor, remind your recruits why they joined and tell them to go after it. Recruiters just point potential Marines in the right direction, once they make it, all they have to do is ask and be persistent.

GET SOME
Do some research on Dan Daly. He is remembered for many things, but commonly a famous saying. He is also the epitome of a exemplar Marine. Each time a company graduates, one Drill Instructor receives the Dan Daly award for being the hardest working. Who do you think will win?

SCUTTLEBUTT
The winner of the rifle range: Platoon 2150
Final CFT: Platoon 2156

Please remember it’s not about who gets first place… it’s about being consistent. When the winner of honor platoon is determined it might just surprise you.

Field Week

Table II
Per MCO 3574.2K, Basic Combat Rifle Marksmanship (BCRM) or more commonly known as Table II, is the first step in transitioning a Marine from fundamental marksmanship to becoming a proficient combat marksman. Marines will be evaluated on their mastery of BCRM skills at the completion of Table II training.

Table II combined with Table I (the rifle range) produces the Rifle Qual score. I noticed that recruits seemed as if they enjoyed Table II more than Table I. Although I can’t put an exact reason of why, I can point out what might make them feel this way.

During Table II, the recruits wear their kevlar, flak jacket and use a 3-point sling while shooting. Even the simplest of changes can trigger that combat mindset for recruits. Mix that in with moving targets, and you have just created a combat environment.

Combat environments can become very exciting and produce a high adrenalin rush. That’s just a lucky guess, but it’s based on a bit of experience.

Land Navigation
There was once a day when a GPS and cell phones didn’t exist. After Field Week, your recruit should know how to use a map and compass to find their way to any point. Impressed? Don’t be. It’s not as hard as it sounds (at least for us Marines, and probably your recruit too) and it is a very valuable tool. One thing you can be impressed about is them doing it in the dark.

Land navigation doesn’t click right away with every recruit, so they are divided up into teams and sent on their way to learn everything they can about the subject and from each other. It also gives them a brief few hours to not be around the DIs the entire time.

I, for one enjoyed watching your recruits and the drill instructors during land navigation. They had a few surprises waiting for them they probably didn’t expect. I followed a few of them around and just listened to them trying to work together to find the next point. They did fairly well and most had good things to say. Their spirits were definitely high. Maybe it’s because the pressure of the rifle range has finally surpassed them.

Copeland’s Assault course
Well, what can I say? I took so many photos at this event, you should have all felt like you were there yourself. I am sure the recruits felt the pain and frustration this course can inflict, but after it’s over, it’s not that bad. Many even wanted to do it again.

The recruits must have inhaled so much dirt that day they were probably blowing mud out of their nose for a week. Low crawling will do that to you, but if the situation arises, you can be sure they know how to do it, and do it well.

Now let me say this, I cannot figure out for the life of me why a recruit would take a class on how to take cover (to position yourself behind something to refrain from getting shot) and then do buddy team rushes and stop in an empty area of grass and get in the prone. The point is to protect yourself, not give yourself away. Even I was going up to correct them. No worries though, they WILL get it eventually (before they ever go into combat that’s for sure).

They may have left that course with a few bumps and bruises if they weren’t careful during their movements, not to mention extremely dirty. However, I can pretty much be certain your recruit would rather do that than sit in classes, and if he wouldn’t let’s just hope he’s admin.

Night Obstacle Course
When I first came into boot camp I really couldn’t see myself wanting to deploy. After going through boot camp and Marine Combat Training, I was aggravated I picked a desk job because all I wanted to do was deploy. I, for one, thoroughly enjoy going to the field and leaving the “garrison” side of the Marine Corps behind me.

When I say garrison, I am talking about uniform inspections, random formations at any given time and the average work day. It is the combat atmosphere that many Marines miss the most.
Well, a combat atmosphere is exactly what they got when they participated in the night obstacle course.

The smell of smoke surrounded them as flares illuminated the sky. Moving when the “lights” were on was a big mistake most of them tend to make no matter how many times the DI had to scream at them to stop moving.

The most challenging part was getting your eyes accustomed to the changing light and then being able to see when it was time to move again. The entire company performed this course together.

Recruit Parents
Now, I have heard so many of you are having a hard time this week. Maybe it’s because you are in that final home stretch and the days seem to be going much slower. Maybe it is because you haven’t gotten a letter in 3 weeks, or maybe it’s because your recruit got dropeed and won’t graduate on Nov.18.

Whatever the case might be, it’s time to pick your head up. Can’t you see that your attitudes compared to your recruits have flip-flopped? They were most likely feeling like you are now when they first arrived, but now they are confident and excited to be here. Their attitudes are in great places and they are finally enjoying their surroundings and looking forward to what awaits them after graduation. They are not pouting. So neither should you. Be happy knowing they are in a healthy state of mind, and know that these next couple of weeks will be over before you know it.

Here is a little secret: When your recruits leave boot camp. They won’t know what to do with themselves. They will probably be looking around for someone to tell them what to do and when to do it. You might even have to tell them when to use the bathroom. I am not saying take advantage of this, BUT, if something needs fixing or the grass needs to be cut… by all means…

Oh and P.S. – I talked to a few of the recruits the other day about second phase. They loved every second of it. Well, almost every second 😉

GET SOME
Many people have asked me what the symbols sewn onto the recruits kevlars mean. Each symbol represents a fire team position and each different position comes with its own responsibilities. Look them up and educate yourself on them, as they will most likely come up during the crucible.

SCUTTLEBUTT
Recruits were getting their uniform issue the last couple of days. This consists of 5 seperate uniform categories, and of those, some have subcategories. It’s a lot to remember at first, but they will learn them all as time goes by. Look up the Marine Corps Order for uniforms, check them out for yourself and the explore the significant meanings of certain items that appear on the uniforms, such as the blood stripe.

ADDITIONALLY:
If you intend on joining other family and friends for the meet and greet, here is what you need to know:
Who: Family and friends of Golf Company Recruits
What: a Meet and Greet with Golf Company Drill Instructors and Command
When: November 16, 2011 at 6 p.m.
Where: Coyote Cafe
RSVP: Stacey.belk@yahoo.com no later than Oct. 28, 2011

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

A little “pick-me-up”

I always have these ideas here and there about what I should write about next. I am always searching for a pen to jot down random thoughts, but the question still remains: What would really, truly be beneficial to recruit parents aside from what is happening during Week 3 or graduation info?

I don’t know why the idea has never come to me before now. But…

Building Blocks: Start with camaraderie

The Marine Corps is built on something I feel that other services don’t provide. Brotherhood. I have never been in another service, but I am friends with many people who belong to one.  We all serve for the same thing; the Marines just have a different way of doing it.

At some point in time, your Marine will probably work for someone who they don’t see eye-to-eye with. They may argue and maybe even fight, but when it comes down to the nitty-gritty there is nothing they wouldn’t do for each other. There will never be another place quite like this, where you can take two people who have absolutely nothing in common and turn them into life-long friends.

As tradition, the Marine Corps uses camaraderie on familiar soil and in a combat zone. Those who surround each other will become part of each other. The Marine to your left, is your left and the Marine to your right, is your right.

We are a different breed almost like a certain strand of encoded DNA. They have instilled us with discipline, pride and passion. The discipline to get it done right the first time, passion to be the best at everything we do and the pride to not throw our success in the faces of others. We will always be proud of what we have accomplished.

More than half-way through and looking back: Who will you remember?

I remember picking up your recruits from the airport. I was thinking to myself, “Man, they have no idea what they are about to experience.” Well, neither did I. I have watched boys begin to shape into men. I have seen them go from tripping over their own feet and falling over other recruits, to walking with with a strut and their heads held high. They don’t stumble across their words when speaking to the DIs anymore, and their demeaner proves to be prouder than ever that they have made it thus far.

What I see on the other side of the house is what has surprised me the most. The DIs have become protective over their recruits and truly care about the wellbeing and morale of the platoon. As they begin to familiarize themselves with each one on an individual level, they have created a mutual link of respect for one another.

I will never forget my “kill hat” (she was equivalent to a third hat, except she was the forth DI for our platoon). Her name was Sgt. Richardson back then. I remember thinking, “I will never be able to be like her, this woman is insane. How does she go and go and why does she hate me so much? The Marines might not be for me.” To think I am the same rank now that she was, I never would have thought I would come so far in the Marine Corps.

Now, I am at a recruit depot surrounded by DIs who will have the same impact on your recruit as my DIs have had on me. The recruits should be honored to share their work space with some of the best leaders around.

Marines do it for the nation, they do it for us all.

Ever wonder who trained me?

The picture below is a recruiting poster you may be familiar with. First Sgt. Smith is shown here demonstrating MCMAP. She was my “Drill Hat” (or the J) while I was in boot camp in July of 2005. And yes, she was mean as hell.
[Editors Note: Opinions expressed are not to be considered an official expression of the DoD, DoN, or the USMC.]