Saturday, October 31, 2009

Crucible Journal (part 8)

The following is a portion of a journal a recruit kept while at bootcamp on Parris Island as he embarked on the Crucible and became a United States Marine.

SATURDAY - Parris Island Boot Camp - CRUCIBLE

Dear Journal,

0300. Before we stepped out to conquer our final hump back to the Base, the First Sergeant briefly reviewed the EGA ceremony with the whole Company. At 0330 we stepped out to take on our last challenge… our last obstacle as United States Marine Corps Recruits! The hump back is a good 10-miles long and was NOT easy!! We all limped along with our feet sore to the core. My blisters kept bleeding through my bandages and socks. I changed socks 6 times! The pain was irrelevant now… we continued on, because no one wanted to be dropped this close to the end. We have no watches so we don't really know how long we've been humping. The DI's have been amazingly supportive this morning. They started telling us "That's already two miles down. Not long now men." But I know that was not two whole miles...maybe a little over one at the most. They just want to keep our spirits up.

We stopped for a foot check at the base of the Ceculas Climbing Wall. Since we had not completed this obstacle, it was added to our final hump. We took a few moments to rebandage and regroup. I keep repeating to myself, "You're almost done!" Then, one by one we climbed up and over the wall, falling to the other side as gently on our sore tender feet as possible. Right foot…Left foot…Climb, Climb, Pull, Pull…holding on with all our might to get over. NO WAY any of us wasn't going over that wall!! 'Cause on the other side was our reward. We were almost home! The closer and higher we got to the top, the more it motivated us! When we fell to the other side…we were amazingly energized! One-by-one we fell over and over the top of that huge wall until we were all together.

I watched the last of my platoon go over the wall thinking, "Have I really earned this? Have I worked hard enough? Do I deserve it? Am I ready to be a UNITED STATES MARINE?"

"Not far to go now men…just a couple more miles." The DI's have been saying that for over 4 miles now. I don't think about it anymore, 'cause I am almost to my dream. When the sun was rising we reached the DI Bridge. Once we were across, the DI's started Jody calls and we all joined in! As we got closer to the main base, the Jody calls got louder and louder!! Then, I looked up and what do you think I saw?? The trail back was lined with flags! Our State Flags!! As I passed all the different State Flags, I grew more and more eager to see my………...THERE IT IS!!!! My HOME STATE FLAG! I never felt more proud to see that flag!! And right then, the loyalty of all the folks back home overwhelmed me. I was shaking. I couldn't wait to get to the Parade Deck and hold that pin in my hand!

We proceeded down past the flags, toward the Parade Deck. We put our gear down and formed up around the Iwo Jima Memorial. The Color Guard raised the flag on the memorial. The Chaplain read a prayer specifically written for the finish of the Crucible. It was beautiful. The Company First Sergeant called the Company to attention. After that we were brought to Present Arms (salute) and the National Anthem was played. My heart was pounding out of my chest, so I didn't hear one word until…

"o'er the land of the free…………………
and the HOME……………………………….
of the …………………………………BRAVE!!!!!"

After the National Anthem, the First Sergeant turned us over to our Senior Drill Instructor to carry out the plan of the day. With tears of pride and joy streaming down our faces, we heard the Marine Corp Hymn being played over the loudspeaker…

"From the Halls of Montezuma
To the Shores of Tripoli;"

I tried to mouth the words but just couldn't.

"We fight our country's battles
In the air, on land and sea;"

From the corner of my eye, I saw the DI's on my row.

"First to fight for right and freedom
And to keep our honor clean;"

…I'll never forget when my Drill Instructor stepped in front of me, congratulated me, handed me my emblem, and shook my hand. I will never forget holding that tiny pin that symbolized huge honor. Most of all… I will never forget when he patted me on the shoulder and said… "Congratulations, "MARINE."

"We are proud to claim the title
of United States Marine."

No comments: