FORT LAUDERDALE -- When Gen. Carl E. Mundy, the Marine Corps’ 30th commandant, said the Corps’ most important responsibility is leading Marines, he wasn’t just talking about after boot camp.
Marines with Recruiting Station Fort Lauderdale lead their future Marines during the annual field meet April 20, which pinned substation against substation in a battle of mind, body and spirit.
“Ultimately, we hold these field meets to show future Marines that they have to pull together as a team,” said Sgt. Maj. Jeffery Jones, recruiting station sergeant major from Havana, Ark. “We are preparing them for the rigors of boot camp.”
Hundreds of future Marines participated in various Marine Corps inspired competitions like squad pull ups, crunches, Marines Corps history and other events designed to give them a taste of boot camp and esprit de core.
“Giving them a spirit of competition will enhance and bring out that warrior spirit needed to win on the battle field working as a team,” explained Jones, who served as a drill instructor at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego.
Adding stress and intimidation from a drill instructor made the event impactful for both the future Marines and their parents. Jones said the drill instructor interaction was a rehearsal for what is to come once they step off the bus aboard the recruit depot.
“Having a drill instructor there allows the parents to see firsthand the initial emotional challenge their son or daughter will face when they arrive at Parris Island,” said Gunnery Sgt. Robert Robinson, a south Florida native and career recruiter who has overseen more than 1,000 youth from the area ship to boot camp. “Answers about recruit training came from the horse’s mouth.”
Providing a method behind the madness was important to ease the thoughts of parents and build their confidence that their children will be safe and come back better than before.
Drill instructors yelled, screamed and presented future Marines with their usual bull dog like role as the Corps center of gravity for transforming young adults into Marines.
“The videos you watch at the (recruiting substation) are nothing like the real thing,” explained Jocelyn Puerta, a future Marine from Miami with Recruiting Substation South Dade.
Preparation for a rigorous three months of boot camp doesn’t start or end with the field meet. Robinson explained that “the better prepared our future Marines are; the more impactful they will be at boot camp. They will essentially have an easier time meeting the grueling challenge of training.”
Drawing from centuries of tradition and the Marine Corps’ competitive spirit, Puerta said the time in the Delayed Entry Program (DEP) “has helped me comprehend what being a Marine is all about.”
“What this time before boot camp is all about, is mentally and physically preparing for boot camp,” concluded Jones. “The more we prepare [them], the less stress they will feel at boot camp, which will increase their chances of becoming a Marine.”
Recruiting Substation South Dade won the competition showing that they could come together as a team to accomplish a goal.
“I’m proud of all of you,” said Jones, “But, there has to be a winner, and they won because they came together as a team.”