Monday, June 20, 2011

Week 12: Marine Week

It's graduation week. Tomorrow my family will be on the road to San Diego! I am so excited to wrap my arms around my Marine son and hold him for a little bit.
This is decompression week for our sons and daughters. Final inspections, packing, stepping away from the intense and back into the real world.
Marine Week is a period of time where the new Marines learn to operate in a more decentralized environment. After eleven weeks of being told what to do almost every waking moment, this is a chance for them to show their drill instructors what they have learned about small unit leadership, ethics, and core values.
They are not recruits any more, they are allowed to wear a watch, they move about the Depot as small units, and are now addressed by their rank and last name, or simply as “Marine.”
Drill instructors make a transition as well, serving more as mentors, and the new Marines call them by their rank and last name.
There is also an important moment when Marines, past and present, come visit and “Share the Legacy,” passing along their experiences, and telling the new Marines how the Corps’ core values have shaped their lives. Marine parents

We get Family day on Thursday beginning with a motivation run (Moto Run) in the morning where the new Marines run in formation for the parents to see. Then, later in the day, the new Marines get base liberty during which they can hang out with their families for several hours and show us around and maybe grab a meal.

On Friday is graduation in the morning and then release!

Friday, June 17, 2011


No longer Recruit, now he is Marine!
Following the 54-hour Crucible, my son and his fellow India Company recruits became U.S. Marines yesterday during the Eagle, Globe and Anchor ceremony.

All Marines die, in the red flash of battle or the white cold of a nursing home. In the vigor of youth or the infirmity of age all will eventually die, but the Marine Corps lives on. Every Marine who ever lived is living still, in the Marines who claim the title today. It is that sense of belonging to something that will outlive your own mortality that gives people a light to live by and a flame to mark their passing.
Marines call it esprit de corps.

Eagle, Globe and Anchor
The general design of the emblem was probably derived from the British Royal Marines' "Globe and Laurel." The globe on the U.S. Marine emblem signifies service in any part of the world. The eagle also indirectly signifies service worldwide, although this may not have been the intention of the designers in 1868. The eagle which they selected for the Marine emblem is a crested eagle, a type found all over the world. On the other hand, the eagle pictured on the great seal and the currency of the United States is the bald eagle, strictly a North American variety. The anchor, whose origin dates back to the founding of the Marine Corps in 1775, indicates the amphibious nature of Marines' duties.

On 22 June 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed an Executive Order, which approved the design of an official seal for the United States Marine Corps. The new seal had been designed at the request of the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr.

The new seal consisted of the traditional Marine Corps emblem in bronze; however, an American bald eagle replaced the crested eagle depicted on the 1868 emblem, and is depicted with wings displayed, standing upon the western hemisphere of the terrestrial globe, and holding in his beak a scroll inscribed with the Marine Corps motto "Semper Fidelis" (Ever Faithful) with the hemisphere superimposed on a foul anchor. The seal is displayed on a scarlet background encircled with a Navy blue band edged in a gold rope rim and inscribed "Department of the Navy, United States Marine Corps" in gold letters. Coincident with the approval of this seal by the President, the emblem centered on the seal was adopted in 1955 as the official Marine Corps Emblem. leatherneck

And then ...
A warriors breakfast.    

Once the emblems were passed out, the company commander delivered an inspiring message to the new Marines expressing his elation with their accomplishments and encouraging them to stay motivated. Then he dismissed them to shower before eating a well-deserved Warrior’s Breakfast, which included bagels, cereal, steak, eggs and more.
“Before they didn’t even get to see their drill instructors drink or eat. Now they’re sitting down with them,” said 1st Sgt. Sean P. Farrow. “They just became a part of the toughest organization in the world. If that’s not the most significant moment in their life, we failed them.”  dvids

Monday, June 13, 2011

Week 11: The Crucible

 The Crucible is designed to break, torture, try and teach.  -- Kevin Webb

We hear so much about this adventure, this challenge of all challenges, that as parents, family members, friends and lovers of these recruits, we dread it for them. But, in reading multiple blogs and letters and looking into what is happening to our children, I don't see so many who say this is the worst part of that boot camp adventure. In watching this video, I realize this is where Recruit will shine. He has been designing and navigating obstacle courses all his life. The yelling backs off and the puzzle solving begins. This is the ultimate in Recruit fun.

The final test:
For 54 straight hours, recruits’ endurance, teamwork and skills will be pushed to the limit. Through perseverance and courage, they will finish as platoons and earn the title Marine.
 During The Crucible, recruits face: Obstacles that must be negotiated as a team; Day and nighttime marches;  Night infiltration movement; Combat resupply and casualty evacuation scenarios; Combat field firing as a team; Minimal food and sleep, simulating combat; Leadership tests; and Core values training. The recruit's final test

"If a recruit steps in a red zone or falls off of an obstacle, he must drag “Fred,” a life-size dummy, to simulate emergency casualty evacuation from a combat zone.During the Crucible, recruits are only required to get four hours of sleep per night and have to stretch three proportioned meals to last three days. Sleep and food deprivation are a crucial aspect of the Crucible because it helps the recruits experience a combat situation, said Staff Sgt. Chad R. Kiehl, drill instructor, Platoon 2037, Company H.
Although tired, hungry, and mentally and physically exhausted, the recruits still have to come together and accomplish the assignment set before them, said Kiehl, a native of Richfield, Minn." leatherneck

Many of the exercises are created from famous battles:

Day 1
Reveille (2 am)
Night movement (3 am)
Recruits conduct a 6-mile hike to the Crucible site.
Events 1-3 (5: 30 am - 6:30 pm)
Event 1 – Battle of Hue City
A one-hour event in which the teams resupply water, ammunition and MREs through a course which consists of trenches, wire fences and walls.
After the resupply course, teams negotiate the warrior stations below:
Pfc Jenkins Pinnacle
Teams cross two horizontal cable-supported logs.
Pfc Garcia's Engagement
Individuals demonstrate their knowledge of hand-to-hand combat skills, and then participate in a warrior case study of Pfc. Garcia.
Lehew's Challenge
Teams of two climb over an eight-foot high horizontal log.
Corbin's Convoy
Teams react to a simulated IED while on patrol.
Event 2 – Battle of Belleau Wood: Pugil Sticks/Body Sparring
Leadership Reaction Course
A three-hour event in which the teams perform six reaction course problems which test their ability to work as a team to solve problems.
Some of the problems include:
Using three wooden boards to cross a number of stumps without touching the ground.
Negotiating a water hole using the same wooden board concept to get from point A to point B.
Transporting a large container over a wall using the limited resources available.
Once completing the events, the teams of two face off in a pugil stick bout.
Event 3 – Core Event and Warrior Stations
A one-hour event which can hold a maximum of six teams working concurrently.
Noonan's Casualty Evacuation
The team will recover a downed pilot and another recruit “shot” by a sniper and transport them over a mile of wooded terrain.
Enhanced Obstacle Course
the recruits carry a dummy casualty on a stretcher and ammunition cans from one end of a standard Marine Corps obstacle course to the other, going over all obstacles.
Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP) Strikes Station -
Recruits are required to demonstrate and conduct five-minute MCMAP strikes.
Core Values Station
Recruits sit inside a hut and receive information on a particular core value from their drill instructor.
Night Event (8 pm - 11 pm) - Five-mile night hike with a time limit of three hours.
Sleep (midnight - 4 am)
Day 2
Reveille (4 am)
Events 4-6 (5:30 am - 6:30 pm)
Event 4 – Battle of Fallujah
A one-hour event in which teams resupply water, ammunition and MREs through the Combat Assault Course.
Following the completion of the Battle of Fallujah, recruits negotiate a bayonet assault course and the warrior stations below:
Perez's Passage
Teams cross a “contaminated area” by swinging on ropes from “safe spot” to “safe spot.”
Kraft's Struggle
Teams climb a 10-foot wall and climb down the opposite side by a knotted rope.
John Quick Trail (Navigation Station)
Basic map reading and grid coordinate plotting will be reviewed and evaluated.
Core Values Station
Recruits sit inside a hut and receive information on a particular core value from their drill instructor
Event 5 – Battle of Mariana Islands
Combat Endurance Course
Teams have two hours to complete five events of a modified Confidence Course.
The Sky Scraper
The team retrieves a “wounded” dummy from the top of an 18-foot tower.
Stairway to Heaven
Team members move two ammunition cans over the top of a 36-foot ladder obstacle.
Two-Line Bridge
Team members cross two 52-foot long ropes with their hands and feet suspended two feet and 10 feet off the ground as they carry ammunition cans and water re-supply cans.
The Weaver
Team members climb over and under 24 logs, 42 feet in length ascending to 14 feet as they carry ammunition and water re-supply cans.
In addition to the Enhanced Confidence Course, teams go through a Combat Endurance Course.
Combat Endurance Course- Teams conduct a simulated patrol, negotiate the obstacles and report the number and types of obstacles to intelligence sources.
Event 6 – Battle of Khe Sanh (Unknown Distance Firing)
Teams of four fire two magazines of five rounds each from simulated building structures at unknown distance targets in a time limit of 70 seconds. The number of targets hit and number of unused ammunition is then recorded.
Following Day's Defense, team members participate in a 250-meter casualty evacuation where members remove simulated casualties from a simulated danger area consisting of artillery simulators.
Night Event (8 pm - 11 pm)- Night Infiltration Course
Teams re-supply water, ammunition and MREs at night in a simulated combat environment. The teams take their ammunition cans, water cans and simulated MREs through the Combat Assault Course with the added obstacle of darkness.
Sleep (midnight - 4 am)
Day 3
Reveille (3 am)
Nine-mile hike (4 am - 7 am)
Recruits conduct a nine-mile hike from the Crucible site back to the battalion.
Eagle Globe and Anchor Ceremony (7:30-8:00)
New Marines will receive an Eagle Globe and Anchor from their Drill Instructor marking their transition from a recruit to a Marine.
Warrior's Breakfast
The new Marines are treated to a breakfast fit for only true warriors. It consists of all-you-can-eat steak, eggs and potatoes.

Pvt. Terry Ranker, Platoon 2039, Company H, enjoys a Meal, Ready to Eat during a short break in training. During the Crucible, recruits must make three MREs last three days while hiking and negotiating obstacles.During the Crucible, a 54-hour event that tests everything recruits have learned throughout training, recruits are evaluated on their skills and knowledge by completing numerous team-building obstacles at Edson Range, Camp Pendleton, Calif. leatherneck

Thursday, June 9, 2011


While US Army does not officially recognize Cadence Calls or Jody’s, they are well engrained in the fabric of all military services and even police services and fire departments.
 (In the United States Military cadences song by marching or running soldiers are often dubbed “Jodys” or “Jody calls”. This name “Jody” refers to a recurring civilian character, the soldier’s nemeses, who stays home to a perceived life of luxury. Jody stays home to drive the soldiers car, date the soldiers girl friend, hangs out with the soldiers friends, and eats mom’s great cooking.)
The two primary types of cadence calls are the marching cadences at 120 beats per minute, and running cadences which move at 10 beats per minute.
Requiring no instruments to play, they are counterparts in oral military folklore of the military march. As a sort of work song, military cadences take their rhythms from the work being done. Many cadences have a call and respond structure of which one soldier initiates a line, and the remaining soldiers complete it, thus instilling teamwork and camaraderie for completion. The cadence calls moveto the beat and rhythm of the normal speed (quick time)march or running-in-formation (double time) march. This serves the purpose of keeping soldiers "dressed", moving in step as a unit and in formation, while maintaining the correct beat or cadence. Army Cadence
Born to be a Marine
(Marine Running Cadence)

Marine running cadence

Monday, June 6, 2011

Testing week/retrospective

According to Recruit, this is testing week. We are going a bit retrospective here because this blog did not start at the very beginning and while this is the 11th week for them to be there, it is only week 10 in the training schedule because the first week is an orientation and not officially a training week.

Our children began here:

And now they are ready to move into the last part of the experience before they become Marines.

There are two primary tests:
Final Practical Application Test
The final practical application test is a series of test events where recruits are required to demonstrate their knowledge and mastery of the subject.
These areas include: First Aid skills, Customs and Courtesies (like saluting or boarding a ship). Marine Corps Uniform and rank identification, and Weapons assembly and disassembly.
Final Written Academic Test
The final written academic test is second of two written tests recruits take during their training. Recruits must pass both the practical application test and the written test in order to progress in training and to be able to graduate. Recruits are tested across the spectrum of what they have been taught in training.
Test material includes: Core values and ethics, First Aid, Military History, Customs and Courtesies, Marine Corps Uniforms, Leadership, Marine Corps Policy and Organization, BWT (Basic Warrior Training) subjects like land navigation and hand and arm signals, and Marksmanship.
And here our children will be for the rest of their lives:

"You earned the title "Marine" upon graduation from boot recruit training. It wasn't willed to you; it isn't a gift. It is not a government subsidy. Few can claim the title; no one can take it away. It is yours forever."
- Tom Barlett - Leatherneck Magazine

Friday, June 3, 2011

The gas chamber

So here is one part I couldn't handle ... This mom fails at Marine boot camp, just thinking about it, right off the top ...

When Recruit, wearing his gas mask, goes into a big metal box room, the steel doors slam shut and he and his fellows are in complete silence, aside from the sound of breathing through masks.
Orthochlorobenzylidene malononitrile, or "CS" gas, is released in the chamber. CS gas causes irritation to the eyes, skin and mucous membranes, but is non-toxic if inhaled.
While in the chamber, the recruits perform three exercises. The first is to bend over and shake their heads for approximately 15 seconds to ensure their masks were secured to their head and airtight. After that, they completed a set of jumping jacks together to test the mask's seal. For the last exercise the recruits are told by their Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear instructor to break the seal on their masks with two fingers and allow the gas to enter. As the gas seeps into their masks, many of the recruits begin to cough uncontrollably.
“The drill instructors are inside the chamber to stop any recruits who try to get out,” said Staff Sgt. Matthew Kollhoff, Weapons Field Training Company, Camp Pendleton, Calif. “If they start to panic, a CBRN instructor will check his mask and calm him down.”Gaining confidence

"The gas chamber is a confidence builder for the (gas) mask. (Marines) need to know the mask to trust that it will work in a contaminated environment," said Sgt. Robert D. Brown, Nuclear, Biological and Chemical defense specialist, Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. "But the classroom time is the most important part of the training."
According to Brown, the "gas" is actually fine particles that attach to the skin and cause a burning sensation and excretion of mucus from the nose and throat. Lesson's learned

“This exercise is supposed to help give the recruits the confidence to be able to go into an environment not knowing what’s going to happen and be able to do what’s needed for themselves and their fellow Marines,” said Sgt. Adrian J. Jones, field instructor and Birmingham, Ala. native. confidence chamber

Some Yahoo answers...
"Your lungs, nose, throat, skin, and eyes will burn and you'll be shooting snot out of your nose like a fountain, but you won't puke. Nobody in my platoon did. "
"The gas chamber sucks. my advice is make sure you can recite your name, rank and SSN while choking really fast."