A little more than a month ago, WKBN 27 First News reporter Nadine Grimley and photographer T.J. Renninger were invited to Parris Island to watch how civilians are transformed into marines.
There they witnessed recruits in every phase of training. From the folks fresh off the bus, going through processing and disheveled, to those going through an intense 54-hour session called the crucible. It all happened within 13 weeks.
“The good thing is we get America’s brightest and the young future of America. We are getting 17, 18 year old teens coming right out of high school. They are coming here and just eager to accept the challenge to become a Marine,” said Gregg Carroll, United States Marine Corps.
For 100 years, Parris Island has been home to the United States Marine Corps Recruit Depot for the Eastern Region. There, civilians arrive, and are transformed into men and women of the U.S. Marine Corps.
Carroll said 20,000 come through the training program each year, with 17,000 being men and 3,000 being women. Carroll said teamwork is instilled in the recruits from the beginning and is stressed throughout all three phases of recruit training.“We teach them our core values: Honor, courage, commitment. Obviously, we have to set the example as well,” Staff Sgt. Carolin Chavez said.
The recruits are pushed to the limit. When they arrive, most of them are nervous, scared even, but at 18 and 19 years old, Grimley said she would have felt the same, not knowing what to expect.
They are yelled at non-stop by drill instructors, even when they eat at the “chow” hall. But seeing these recruits transform is a sense of pride for those in charge, even noting the increased confidence recruits show after what is arguably the most intense part of boot camp, a 54-hour session known as “the crucible.”
Grimley and Renninger got to watch, as the platoon was crawling through the sand, carrying a gun, and a box of ammo, while maneuvering under barbed wire, as a group, leaving no man behind, all on four hours a sleep a night. After finishing that, they are considered a Marine.
“You see the difference, you see them standing straight up taller, with so much pride and that is the thing I like the most,” Chazez said.
The training ends with a motivational run during which families line the roads and cheer them on. It is the first time they have seen their loved one in 13 weeks. The next day, an official ending with a graduation ceremony.
Check back here and watch 27 First News at 6 p.m. all week for more on Grimley’s visit to Parris Island.