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Kuemmel's Corner: Learning first-hand what goes into being a Marine

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the Marine Corps’ Educators Workshop in California. The Marine Corps pays to send teachers, coaches, counselors, and administrators to its Recruit Depot in San Diego for five days. The main purpose is to help educators learn more about this branch of the military, including the recruiting process, basic training boot camp, and the many careers available in the Marine Corps. Educators are also able to learn valuable leadership skills that can be transferred to our schools.

Our first day started on the famous “yellow footprints” where every Marine recruit stands when they first arrive to the Recruit Depot. We also got a small glimpse into what it feels like to work with a USMC drill instructor. That afternoon we had the chance to eat lunch with a recruit currently in the middle of boot camp. This lunch made me realize how much the recruits give up during this basic training. For 12 plus weeks, the only contact that they have with the outside world is by letter writing. No TV, cell phones, emails, nothing! The student that I talked to was not even sure what teams were in the Super Bowl or who won the game. Their one special treat was a 15 minute phone call home on Christmas day. That afternoon we also got to experience the physical demands the recruits had to endure to make them ready to be a Marine. This combat fitness test includes a half-mile run, lifting weights, and an agility/obstacle course done on a football field (look for Coach E to incorporate some of this into his summer workouts with the students!). The second day was spent at Air Station Miramar, where much of the air training is done for the Marines (yes, the Marines also fly planes). We also had a chance to walk through the Marine Museum and hear first-hand stories from a retired Marine.

Our third day was spent at Camp Pendleton, where they do much of the marksmanship, field, and water training for the Marines. On our final day we were able to witness the graduation day parade for the platoons that had successfully made it through their 12-week training. The joy on these young men’s faces (women are trained on the east coast) was priceless, both to be done with training as well as to see their families for the first time in three months.

By no means are the Marines trying to turn the educators into recruiters. In fact, it is almost the exact opposite. If the educators are more informed on what it takes to be a Marine, they can help educate high school students that they believe would be successful in this branch of the military.

The entire experience really made me aware of how much work goes in to being a Marine, and made me appreciate all of the service men and women in all branches of our military.

Semper fidelis.

-Phil Kuemmel, Park High School Activities Director