Marine Corps Boot Camp Facing Down Entitlement Mentality and COVID to Produce Elite Warriors
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Before dawn in Parris Island, South Carolina, young men and women engage in rigorous physical training or PT. And as the sun rises, there's no morning coffee or break for these Marine recruits.
It's part of a 13-week boot camp designed to transform civilians into an elite fighting force.
Parris Island was officially designated a Marine Corps Recruit Depot, on November 1, 1915. Today, more than 4,000 recruits are in training at any given time, and installation leadership expects to train around 20,000 each year.
"It's very intense, but it needs to be because of the fact that we are a fighting organization; not all of us are in fighting MOS's (Military Occupational Specialty), but we are warriors," CPL Logan Barry told CBN News. "So they instill that intensity inside of you."
"It's 13 weeks of hard training back to back – countless hours of just sweat and tears," shared new U.S. Marine Tyler Crawford.
"I think that it really pushes you to your limits in terms of how far you can go, how far you think you can go," explained LCPL Bernadette Pacheco. "The drill instructors definitely push you."
Honor, Courage, and Commitment
"Marine Corps drill instructors, we know what we're doing, bottom line," SSGT Evelyn Espinal told CBN News.
Drill instructors like Espinal are a key component in the making of Marines. Each phase involves close order drill, physical training, martial arts training, academics, and learning the core values of honor, courage, and commitment.
"The Air Force comes and visits us; the Army visits us; the Navy visits us," said Espinal. "They come and they learn from us; they try to see how we operate and what we do to transform these Marines 'cause obviously, we're doing something right."
CBN News followed a group of educators experiencing the raw intensity of boot camp as part of a program designed to give teachers and counselors a firsthand experience so they're better prepared to help students considering the military.
Chuck Johnson says he gained a newfound respect for Marines, including his son.
"It was top-notch; this educator workshop was fantastic, and it allowed us as educators to take a behind-the-scenes look that you can't get from word of mouth, to actually be present at the moment, and then see the same type of things that he went through," he shared.
Marine Corps recruits are trained and challenged physically, mentally, and morally. The combination produces the foundation of the character of a Marine.
"I want to say that we're very selfless; our brotherhood and sisterhood is really important to us," said Espinal.
"The goal is to break you down and build you up into a mentality of a team mentality, a more productive citizen mentality, where you're proud to walk around and be who you are," explained MAJ Matthew Sawh. "You're proud to carry yourself a certain way."
Battling Entitlement Mentality and COVID
Both leaders tell CBN News one of the challenges in forming this next generation of Marines is an entitlement mentality in recruits.
"I think breaking them out of the 'it's all about me' mentality is one of the harder things the drill instructors have nowadays," shared Sawh.
"Nowadays, kids, they're babied by their parents; they spend all day at home on their phones, and they don't really play outside no more," Espinal said. "So when they do get hurt, they're not used to that."
"They're not used to getting right back up, and if they do, it's probably recorded or something," she continued. "It's just an entirely different generation."
Still, the drill instructor says although this makes her job tougher, the end result is the same. And even though it's "complicated at first," she's very proud of every Marine she pushes through.
Another complication has been the pandemic.
"It was very hard; I mean, instead of being able to get up and close with a recruit, I had to be 80 feet away and still screaming," Espinal told CBN News. "And I had to scream with a mask on."
One big change here not related to COVID is the formation of integrated companies with both male and female platoons.
"We've always known our female Marines are just as capable as male Marines but to eliminate any kind of stigma, saying like, 'Your training was different than mine,'" Sawh said.
"I think it was like, 'This is to show you that we're all doing the exact same training.' And it's proven to work really, really well," he continued.
And the Marine Corps will have to integrate even further. The 2020 National Defense Authorization Act calls for Parris Island and Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego to eventually train males and females side by side at the platoon level.
"Do I agree with it? No. I don't think males and females should be sleeping in the same squad bay," shared Espinal. "That should be separate; there should be privacy when it comes to that, so I hope that doesn't happen."
For now, they train in separate platoons, and the goal remains unchanged: receive the iconic emblem and become one of "The few. The proud. The Marines."
"Proud; I'm overwhelmed; I'm just proud. Everything he's done, I mean, he's an iron man; he's the strongest. I'm just proud. I'm just so proud," exclaimed Fawne, the mother of new U.S. Marine Tyler Plourde.
"It's awesome. He's accomplished things that I haven't accomplished myself. And I watched him grow. The growth is incredible," shared an emotional Arlen Crawford, the father of new U.S. Marine Tyler Crawford.
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