Get off my bus; "Marching Orders" - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Get off my bus; "Marching Orders"


San Diego, CA (WXOW) More than 200,000 American men and women call themselves United States Marines. Marines are among the most highly trained service members in the world. Recruit boot camp is 13 weeks long; nearly double that of the other branches.

In April, the Marine Corps offered News 19 full access to recruit boot camp. News 19's Amy DuPont takes you to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego for "Receiving Night".

When young men arrive at  Marine Corps boot camp they are immediately ordered onto the infamous Marine yellow footprints; leaving life as a civilian behind.

"They are lost. They are confused. They don't know what's going on." Sergeant Juan Rodriguez is one of the receiving night Drill Instructors. "It's our job to make them even more stressed out and more confused. It's just culture shock to try and get them out of their civilian mindset."

From the moment these recruits step on base Rodriguez and the other Drill Instructors are in their face, barking orders. They immediately teach recruits what's called the POA or position of attention, as well as how to turn and address a Marine. Drill Instructors make it crystal clear a recruit only speaks when spoken to "Here you have no say so. Whatever we say is what you're going to do.", says Sgt. Rodriguez. 

Recruits then head to the contraband room where they turn over all of their personal belongings. Those items, along with the clothes they are wearing, will be placed in storage. They won't get them back until boot camp graduation.

Recruits call home the night they arrive, but the conversation is scripted. They are ordered to scream the message into the phone while Drill Instructors scream at them. "For most parents its a big culture shock because it's a bunch of screaming back here. It's mayhem. They don't know what's going on."

If the reality of boot camp hasn't kicked in by then it usually does when these young men enter the barber shop. "Some of them will come in with really long hair, some come with short hair already; no matter what they're going to sit on a chair and get a hair cut."

Besides the buzz of the clippers the barber shop is silent. You could call it the calm before the storm. "On a scale of one to 10, this is a ten." As intense as receiving night is, it's only the beginning.

Recruits spend the next couple of days doing paperwork and going through medical and dental exams. They officially begin training on what's called "Black Friday"; the day they meet their platoon Drill Instructors. Those 3 or 4 Marines will spend every hour with their recruits for the next three month and teach them how to be a Marine.

See more "Marching Orders" all week long on Daybreak and the 6pm Report.  We'll also air a half-hour special on Armed Forces Day, Saturday, May 18, at 6:30 p.m.

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