MCRD San Diego --
From the crucible to drill, everything a recruit is asked to do is for a purpose. Sometimes that purpose is revealed by their drill instructors and sometimes it is left up to the recruit to figure out and understand. Recently Recruits of Company H, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, were told to run through a bayonet assault course and afterwards enter a ring for a pugil stick fight July 24.
Prior to the pugil sticks exercise Staff Sgt. Leon S. Parker, staff non-commissioned officer in charge of Martial Arts Satellite School, Instructional Training Company, Support Battalion, taught Co. H recruits how to properly use the bayonet.
However before having them practice and run through the assault course he talked to recruits about the importance of utilizing every bit of recruit training. He compared recruit training to receiving free money and explained that just like we would be sure to value and appreciate every dollar we should take advantage of every opportunity recruit training provides.
“By utilizing every second of recruit training you are becoming a warrior,” said Parker. “Imagine someone gave you $86, 400, with the catch of you having to spend it by noon the next day. Just like you could account for every one of those dollars you have to account for every second in the day.”
Dozens of plastic bayonets pointed to the sky like an angry mob waiting to attack. However it may appear, the recruits with bayonets were being introduced to close quarter combat skills.
Once recruits of Company H were given a demonstration of how to run through the bayonet assault course they were lined up behind a wooden wall and sent through the exercise in groups of three aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, July 24.
Shouting from start to finish, the recruits carried their plastic weapons in and out of trenches, slashed tires and shouted combat rushing commands to fellow recruits.
The bayonet assault course did not last long but the intensity and speed at which it was completed made five minutes look like 25. Recruits finished out of breath and drenched with sweat.
After a quick cool down, rifles were put down and helmets, protective armor and pugil sticks were picked up. Recruits circled a ring awaiting their turn. Although hardly a word was said by recruits the non verbal communication was apparent each time a recruit was pegged with a direct hit.
Drill instructors shouted at recruits encouraging them to be more aggressive. Excitement could be heard in their voices as they tried to squeeze maximum effort out of each recruit.
For many Co. H recruits, getting in a ring with protective gear and being told to attack a fellow recruit with a padded stick was the first fight of their lives.
“I’ve never been in a fight,” said Recruit Alex M. Moser, Platoon 2161, Co. H. “Pugil sticks was a first for me and it was kind of hard to fight with gear wrapped on like a diaper. It was fun though and I definitely would want to do it again. You can only learn so much from video games and movies.”
In the ring there are two major rules. One – if a recruit is down it means the end of the match and two – a direct hit to the head is considered a kill shot.
Two-by-two recruits took turns punishing each other. Some recruits approached the fight timid and cautious while others attacked like rabid dogs as if born for it. Recruits banged away at shoulders and blocked thrusts like a sword fight. Helmets let out a crack when hit.
“I think it’s important to have this experience because you have to get over getting hurt and get over the fear of getting into contact with somebody,” said Recruit Gustavo A. Argueta, Plt. 2161, Co. H. “I’d like to see it a little longer and with take downs involved. It would add to the experience.”