Recruits conquer Crucible, return as Marines
By Lance Cpl. Bridget M. Keane
| Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego | December 06, 2012
San Diego --
Company B, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, went to the Crucible as recruits. Arriving back to the depot Dec. 1, they finished the journey that began more than three months ago to earn the title Marine.
They went from civilians standing with clenched fists on yellow footprints at Receiving Company to Marines proudly holding their Eagle, Globe and Anchors atop the Reaper at Edson Range aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif.
“It’s really a big relief. It’s been a lot of hard work and I’m happy that I get to go home and take a break,” said Pfc. Christopher Rench, Platoon 1035, Co. B. 1st RTBn.
The transformation from civilian to recruit and recruit to Marine is a challenge that many are not willing to accept. It takes a young man or woman of confidence and stamina to endure the three phases of recruit training and earn the title. Each phase focuses on different mental and physical aspects of a Marine.
“The first phase is known as the ‘breakdown’ phase,” said Sgt. Brandon Rogers, drill instructor, Plt. 1035, Co. B., 1st RTBn. “During this phase, they are taught basic customs and courtesies of being a recruit. They’re taken out of their comfort zone and put in an environment that they’ve never experienced.”
During this phase, they were introduced to close order drill, the M16-A4 service rifle, inspections and physically demanding training events.
The first few weeks of training are usually difficult for most recruits. They loose a sense of self-attachment and soon realize they are no longer individuals, said Rogers.
Their second phase of training is spent up north at Edson Range aboard MCB Camp Pendleton, Calif. This phase begins to build up the recruits’ confidence, in the way they carry themselves and in their ability to perform.
“The second phase of training is basically making them proficient,” explained Rogers. “They are introduced to the fundamentals of marksmanship and field training, where they learn everything about having a combat mindset.”
Co. B pushed themselves through grueling hikes in the hills of Edson Range and learned how to survive in a simulated combat environment during Field Week.
The last phase of training is where the recruits are expected to start behaving like junior Marines.
“To me, third phase is where we mold them into basically trained Marines,” said Rogers. “Although they’re still recruits, we demand that their presence changes. They should be more confident and be able to hold themselves, as well as each other, accountable.”
The week before they step off to the Crucible, Co. B participated in final graduation requirements such as the final physical fitness test, combat fitness test and the final drill competition.
“These events really show the recruits how far they’ve come from when they first arrived here,” said Rogers.
Co. B spent 60 training days preparing for the final test of recruit training, the Crucible, which is a 54-hour field-training exercise.
The Crucible demanded Co. B to complete missions and work as a team with very little food and sleep. The culminating event of the Crucible is the Reaper hike, a 10-mile hike that pushed the exhausted recruits to their limits physically and mentally.
In the early hours of the morning, the hike was over. As the sun rose in the East, the recruits of Co. B earned their Eagle, Globe and Anchors and the title Marine.
Co. B arrived at the depot three months earlier as young men with the desire to be part of the world’s finest fighting force. They now proudly wear their rank and can claim the title Marine.
“It was exhausting, but totally worth it,” said Rench. “It’s a one of a kind feeling and something that not a lot of people can accomplish.”