Stand by recruit, count!
These words were spoken on numerous occasions when three Neshannock teachers — Mr. Ed Frye, Mrs. Amy Hilton, and Mrs. Jeanne Pursel — joined 26 other teachers, guidance counselors, principals, and law enforcement officials from the Pittsburgh Recruiting Station (from Rochester, NY down through New Castle, and down to Johnstown, PA) and an additional 30 others from the Baltimore Recruiting Station in mid-January at Parris Island, SC. Home of the United States Marine Corps. This is the story of their time in Parris Island . . .
Parris Island and the US Marine Corps graciously hosted us for the Educators Workshop where we learned first-hand what Marine Recruits face when they arrive on Parris Island for boot camp. After a day of travel escorted by Sgt. Henry, SSgt. Ososkie, and Sgt. Hutzell of the New Castle Recruiting Station, we were treated to a nice dinner at the Family Center on Parris Island on Tuesday evening … and then it all began!
Day 1 After a 4:30 a.m. wake-up call and quick breakfast, we loaded the bus for “boot camp.” Our first steps off the bus lead us to the infamous Yellow Footprints where our Drill Instructor Sgt. Kelly immediately began yelling at us in “Marine-speak” (a language known only to Marines to be discovered by the recruits … IN A HURRY!). Following directions without question is the key to success in those first few minutes, days, and weeks of Marine boot camp. Although the story is much more entertaining when told in person (with demonstrations of course), we want to be sure to convey the value of participating in the Educator’s Workshop. At each phase of the event, the educators were given an opportunity to ask questions about the events, surroundings, and requirements of the recruits on Parris Island. It is obvious that the Marines take great pride in what they do and the quality of individuals that graduate at the end of the 13 week camp. We were encouraged to ask many questions about everything. Nothing was “off limits” to us with the exception of taking pictures of the recruits (in order to protect the privacy of the individual).
Recruit receiving, orientation, and presentations about many of the job opportunities presented to Marines after graduating from boot camp (air patrol, band, infantry, etc) filled our first morning before we had the opportunity to have hot chow with recruits. Once in the chow hall, we were greeted by recruits from both the Pittsburgh and Baltimore Recruiting Stations, some of whom had teachers, principals and/or guidance counselors as members of our group from the school where they graduated. What a nice treat to have a visit from “home.” We were able to ask questions, hear stories, backgrounds, and intentions of the recruits with whom we had chow. For the remainder of the day, we experienced water survival, training/handling/shooting an M16 rifle, then off to the MCAS to see the F-18 Fighter Jet up close and personal. It is amazing to see everything that the Marine Corps and Parris Island has to offer our young men and women as “We Make Marines”.
Day 2 on Parris Island proved to be much more physical than our previous day as we witnessed morning PT (physical training) first hand, and participated in the morning Motivational Run where recruits ran in formation in front of their families who were seeing them for the first time in 13-weeks. After the historical visit to the Parris Island museum, we had the privilege of watching the Family Day Leave ceremony where recruits who will graduate the following day are given 6-hour leave to spend with their family and give them a personal tour of Parris Island.
Educators Workshop participants then experienced the Confidence Obstacle Course, Repelled down a 5-story wall, walked through the gas chamber (and YES, there was tear gas in there), then on to the Crucible Course where we were challenged to put our teamwork skills to the test.
We were extremely fortunate enough to have these experiences and to ask questions of numerous officers involved in the training process. Having an understanding of the qualities that the Marines seek in the individuals they recruit and train helps us better encourage our students to consider this very lucrative and honorable option for their future.
Day 3 USMC Parris Island Graduation Day has arrived. The morning began with the presentation of Colors ceremony presented by the honor graduates of today’s festivities. An opportunity to meet and have our picture taken with Brigadier General Austin Renforth and Sergeant Major Rafael Rodriguez was both an honor and a privilege. Following the Presentation of Colors we were escorted to the graduation ceremony where 599 recruits graduated from USMC Parris Island Boot-Camp and were given 10-days leave before recommitting themselves to the Infantry Training Division at Quantico, VA.
All in all, this experience proved to be both enlightening and educational. We have gained a new perspective on how we can best guide and direct our students who are uncertain about their future, who are seeking a future with the armed services, or who are looking for an alternative way to pay for their college education. If you have any questions about our time at Parris Island, SC, please don’t hesitate to ask any of us. We are happy to share our experiences.
– Ed Frye, Amy Hilton, and Jeanne Pursel
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The Making of a Marine – Part 1 (Can you spy our NHS teachers in this segment?)