All Marines remember their drill instructor (DI). In “Making Marines,” visitors step inside the process used by drill instructors to transform young men and women into Marines. “Making Marines” immerses visitors in the memorable experiences that forge recruits and officer candidates into privates and lieutenants.
Listen to the thoughts of wary recruits during that first bus ride to the training depot. Stand on the famous yellow footprints and visit the barbershop where “it all gets taken away.” Visitors can get up close and personal with their own “DI” and will experience how the most important lesson of boot camp is learning how to solve problems as cohesive unit, rather than as an individual. Before graduation, try your marksmanship skills at the M-16 laser rifle range. Remember: “Every Marine is a rifleman.”
Every Marine is a Rifleman
For Marines, "First to Fight" is both a promise and a point of pride. Readiness for rapid deployment and sudden violence demands strict discipline and tough training. Being first on the ground in a hostile situation requires the ability to fight outnumbered and endure great chaos. To maintain this distinctive capability, the Marines have always sought a special breed of recruits, young men and women looking for a personal challenge and a commitment to something greater than themselves. Their careful transformation into Marines occurs under the leadership of handpicked non-commissioned officers trained as Drill Instructors.
"No man is wanted who does not come voluntarily to the flag of his country."
"A Few Good Men" has been a Marine recruiting theme for more than 200 years. As the smallest of the armed services, the Corps can usually afford to be selective in its recruiting efforts, promising adventure and a personal challenge, but not disguising the reality of taut discipline, rugged training, frequent deployments, and hard fighting. Today, each service uses sophisticated television advertising to target its desired population of potential recruits. Marine recruiting programs traditionally attempt to attract motivated, self-reliant young men and women seeking to qualify for service with "The Few…the Proud…the Marines."
Recruiting ends with the oath of enlistment, but the title "Marine" is not bestowed on new recruits. Each must first earn the title by successfully completing recruit training at Parris Island, South Carolina or San Diego, California. The process of transforming civilians into team-oriented warriors requires many intense weeks of closely supervised training, commonly called "Boot Camp." Aware that they are about to be challenged beyond anything they’ve yet experienced, recruits report to Boot Camp with both anticipation and anxiety. "Earning the title" remains a distant goal as they begin to absorb the distinctive values of the Corps.
The first Marine sergeant appears the moment the bus filled with anxious new recruits reaches the depot. He presents an imposing appearance -ramrod straight, impeccably dressed, his broad-brimmed campaign hat squarely centered on his close-cropped head. Everything in his demeanor commands attention. For some recruits, he will be the first male authority figure in their lives. He wastes few words: "Get off my bus and stand on the yellow footprints on the pavement - now!"
As the foremost role model for each platoon of new recruits, the Drill Instructor must represent the highest standards of the Corps and challenge them to unsurpassed levels of personal responsibility and achievement. Drill Instructors know their leadership will have a life-long impact on their recruits. It works both ways. Good D.I.s get so involved in transforming their willful "Boots" into Marines that they, in turn, will remember their recruits the rest of their lives.
Drill Instructors are typically Staff Sergeants and Sergeants, veterans of 7-10 years of service, carefully screened, selected, and trained. To them the Corps entrusts the transformation of raw recruits into the Marine culture, with its distinctive values. Recruit training is intentionally stressful to duplicate the chaos of combat. Drill Instructors teach their recruits that their worst imaginable sin is to let another Marine down, or to leave a fellow Marine on the battlefield. The Boot Camp experience is so memorable that most Marines still recall the names of their Drill Instructors, decades later.
"Old breed? New breed? There’s not a damn bit of difference as long as it’s the Marine breed."
Marine recruits come to Boot Camp from all walks of life with one common denominator - each one has volunteered to join the Corps. Yet there remains an initial gap to bridge between society´s customary individualism and the military´s requirement for self-discipline and teamwork. For the Marines, the Drill Instructor´s challenge is to transform each new platoon of enthusiastic but unfocused volunteers into unselfish, physically fit, team-oriented, hard-charging warriors. The change, Marines often claim, is forever.
Developing physically fit, disciplined recruits does not complete the goal of the Drill Instructors. They concentrate equally on developing the hearts — the inner spark — of their recruits, transmitting the intangible virtues of courage, honor, and commitment by personal example. The D.I.s instill pride by teaching Marine Corps history and traditions, and they foster the unabashed love of country, family, and Corps as embodied in the Marine motto Semper Fidelis, Always Faithful.
Officer Candidate School
Officer candidates from the various college and enlisted commissioning programs are screened and tested at Quantico’s Officer Candidate School (OCS) before earning their commissions as Marine second lieutenants. OCS, like Boot Camp, provides the common foundation for all future Marine officers. Enlisted Drill Instructors and officers test and evaluate each contender. OCS differs from enlisted Boot Camp in its extra emphasis on leadership and adaptability to stress. Attrition is substantial. Those found worthy of leading enlisted Marines into combat go on to several more months of advanced training at The Basic School before assuming leadership billets.
"We tried to design everything so that nobody can get through by themselves. It’s the team that gets through."
Boot Camp equips each Marine with such military fundamentals as the ability to march in formation, defend oneself with martial arts, survive in deep water, don a gas mask quickly in the presence of chemical agents, and throw hand grenades with confidence. In keeping with the Corps’ century-old axiom "Every Marine a Rifleman," all recruits must pass the standard two-week rifle qualification course. The more technical applications of the warriors’ trade come later at post-Boot Camp programs at the School of Infantry, where the focus shifts to advanced tactics, weaponry, and field navigation.
"From this day on, they will be known as Marines."
To the recruits, the closing events occur in dizzying succession. Earlier, they had rushed out of the barracks at reveille to stand yet another ruthless inspection by their Drill Instructors. Now, attired in their new service green uniforms, confidently marching onto a parade field surrounded by their families, several critical things happen. They receive their first "eagle, globe, and anchor" insignia. Their regimental commander becomes the first to address them as "Marines," typically adding, "Marines you are, and Marines you always will be." The band plays "The Marines Hymn." Boot Camp ends. They’ve made the grade, passed the test, earned the title.
Indoor Simulated Markmenship Trainer
"The shot that hit are the shots that count."
The Marines believe that only "hits" count - near misses do little to discourage aggressive intent. Before graduating to a combat marksmanship course of irregular terrain and moving targets, Marines first master the principles of firing at fixed targets on a "known-distance" course, the standard rifle range. The big ranges have their limitations. Safety supervision and target crew requirements limit the numbers of shooters that can train in any given week. The Indoor Simulated Marksmanship Trainer (ISMT) provides an efficient and challenging alternative. Here Marines fire laser beams at simulated, known-distance targets. All "hits" on target are recorded. More advanced marksmanship trainers simulate combat conditions in which Marines fire a variety of infantry weapons against threatening enemy troops and vehicles.
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© Copyright 2016. Admission to the National Museum of the Marine Corps is FREE. Hours are 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM every day except Christmas Day.