Marine Corps boot camp: Eyes inside

I was a year out of high school working a full time job at Fred Meyer in Benson, Wash. It was a starting job; I worked as a parcel clerk, collecting carts and helping people to their car. I had no real path laid out in front of me and wasn’t sure what I was going to do with my life. In the early winter of 2007, I was at work in the afternoon when I was approached by an individual named Jonathan Park. He introduced himself as a United States Marine Corps Recruiter and from that point on I knew what he was doing. I entertained him by listening on what he had to offer; he was good, real good, and got me to come to his office after work. I arrived down at his office and was already in the position of “one foot out the door” and ready to leave. It only took him about ten minutes and I found myself signing the contracts and feeling great about my decision. I knew, from the point I signed the papers, I wanted to be a marine.

On March 17, 2007, I was on a plane to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego for boot camp. I arrived in San Diego and walked in the United Service Organizations to the warm welcome of a drill instructor yelling, “Get your piece of shit ass on the bus!”  I ran quickly past him, feeling the spit from his mouth yelling in my face as I passed. On the bus we were ordered to put our heads between our legs and while we were headed to MCRD. I thought to myself, “What the hell am I doing?” a question everyone there was asking themselves. As we arrived at MCRD, the most memorable moment, was any Marine would tell you, was standing on the yellow footprints.

After a few weeks, I graduated from being a “phase one” recruit to a “phase two” recruit. During phase one they broke me down mentally and then built me back up from scratch, teaching me leadership traits and how to obey orders without thinking. Phase two was where they taught me how to kill with my hands, my rifle and any weapons available.

Another few weeks passed and I finished up phase two of boot camp and was now in phase three, the last and final phase. Everything was going well until I hit the Crucible, a three day event with limited sleep and food, where I had to learn the values of teamwork and to count on my fellow recruits which were tested on over ten exhausting events. To get to these events I had to hike with a 50-plus pound pack several miles to each part. In total, I marched approximately 50 miles and at the end they capped it off with a one mile steep hill they call “The Reaper.” The end of the Crucible was the most exhausting experience I have ever had. I thought we were going to be done for the day but I ended up being wrong. What was coming next ended up being the worst experience of my life.

Finally, graduation day was here. My family came to see me as I received my Eagle, Globe and Anchor the symbol of becoming the marine I wanted to be. I knew I made it, and I knew what it finally meant to be a United States Marine.