What it takes to be a Marine

Principal Sirois, and Brian Heal experience bootcamp from a new recruit perspective

Jeremie Sirois

Mr. Brasier - Video Production Class

Hayley Lefebvre, Staff Writer

One of the many branches of the Armed Forces is the Marines, but no one can fully understand what exactly a Marine endures on a regular basis unless they are involved in the bootcamp themselves.

The Marine Corps is known not only for its strenuous amount of physical activity, but new recruits are expected to act immensely professional at all times. Drill sergeants make sure all recruits follow given commands without question. Not only is this purposefully physically draining but mentally as well, in order to prepare them to serve their country.

Principal Jeremie Sirois had the opportunity to participate in a Marine Boot Camp Workshop located on Parris Island, South Carolina. JMG teacher Brian Heal also attended.

“The purpose of going was basically so educators and administrators could learn more about the Marine Corps so someone in the school is able to answer student questions,” said Sirois. “Let’s say a student is thinking about joining the Marine Corps, I’m able to say that I have been there and this is what you can expect.”

There are only two places in the country that hold boot camps like these, Parris Island being one of them. During the four-day stay Sirois and Heal were treated like new recruits.

“The first night we flew in was like our last night of freedom,” said Sirois. “After that night, we got up at five o’clock in the morning the next day and they put us through the first phase.”

The first phase for real recruits is essentially twenty-four days long, and is where the drill instructors try and break down recruits mentally and physically. This helps them to see how much harshness each one of the recruits can personally handle.

“They [the drill sergeants] were barking orders and having us line up in formation, walk together, run together, do jumping jacks together, and respond to his commands together our first day,” said Heal. “It was all about following orders and building trust in our team.”

In those few weeks real recruits do a lot of marching, cadence, and listen to a variety of commands, which are similar to the things Heal and Sirois took part in over their stay. From the time they wake up to the time they go to sleep Sirois said the recruits were constantly yelled at and drilled.

“When we ourselves weren’t taking part in the bootcamp we got to witness the actual Marines in action,” said Sirois. “We witnessed their morning fitness, marching practice, and we saw them at lunch, the training doesn’t stop. It’s basically twelve to fourteen hours of dedication during this time period.”

Both Sirois and Heal got to see all three phases of the Marine bootcamp. These ranged from people who have only been there a week, to others who were in their weaponry phase shooting at targets, and finally those who were setting up for the crucible, which is a 54- hour program that pushes the limits of each individual to see who will become a Marine.

“The most gratifying moment came when we were able to witness the recruits on their Motivational Run,” said Heal. “This takes place 1 day before the recruits graduate from boot camp. It’s the first time they [the recruits] can see or talk to their families and loved ones in over three months.”

In this Motivational run, recruits run through the streets of Parris Island with their platoon in formation and shout platoon songs and cadence. The families line the streets with signs, and can’t bear the wait to see their son or daughter.

“After the Motivational Run comes graduation,” said Heal. “It’s really the culmination of a lot of hard work and dedication on behalf of the recruits and their Drill Instructors.”

Even though they did not participate in the Motivational Run, Sirois was sure to mention some of the other activities they got to be a part of during this experience. These ranged from walking backwards down a wooden wall, getting the opportunity to shoot a M16 assault rifle, and lastly having to climb and jump telephone poles.

“We shot probably from 25 to 30 yards, and everyone had to shoot or at least attempt,” said Sirois. “Something else I did that was pretty incredible was I had to jump from telephone poles and hug the upcoming one all while being ten or twelve feet in the air.”

Heights aren’t something Sirois is particularly keen on, so for him this was an accomplishment. From the telephone poles Sirois and Heal moved onto the fifty-seven foot wooden wall.

“Mr. Heal was wearing the Gopro, it’s a good thing I wasn’t because even though they harness you, I was standing there fifty seven feet up and the guy said ‘ok go out now’,” said Sirois. “I didn’t say anything, and he said to me you have to go so I went, but your knees start shaking and it’s scary.”

Sirois said that some recruits have to be on the walls and strapped in for twelve hours. He added that the activities they participated in were just as amazing as the sights they saw at bootcamp.

“We got to see an olympic-sized pool where recruits have to show they have to swim with gear on,” said Sirois. “All of the Marine’s pants you can blow into. You secure a certain tie and it essentially creates a life preserver for them.”

The whole experience was intense to say the least, but Sirois was happy that he signed up to go through it.

“I can’t imagine what it would be like for somebody that is walking in at eighteen years old, that just must be nerve wracking to the point to where you are thinking ‘did I do the right thing’,” said Sirois. “It’s truly amazing how dedicated Marines are and what they endure for their country.”