My son graduated from Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island on June 3.
Wesley became a United States Marine a week before marching across the Peatross Parade Deck on the island – to the delight of the friends and family members who made the trip to experience that transformative moment in his life and an unbelievably emotional moment for his father.
He completed a grueling event called the Crucible, effectively ending his time as a recruit when he earned his EGA, or Eagle, Globe and Anchor – an emblem presented to newly minted Marines immediately following the event.
Photo credit: http://www.mcrdpi.marines.mi
The Crucible is no joke. It is 54 hours of food and sleep-deprived physical and mental challenges bordering on the surreal, including 45 miles of marching and simulated battles – and is in fact the culmination of the most intense recruit training of any branch of the American military.
Wesley told me that the Crucible was the most fun he ever had.
What fresh hell! Who says that? Is he kidding me?
His reasoning was that his CrossFit training over the years at CrossFit Myrtle Beach put him in excellent shape, and that he welcomed the Crucible with open arms – a testimony to his mental and physical readiness.
And now, just like that it seems, my young man is a Marine.
The next step for Wes was SOI – or School of Infantry. In his case, this encompassed Infantry Training Battalion.
The official Marine Corps website, http://www.marines.com, sums up this second-stage school much better than my puny civilian brain can hope to:
“Infantry Training Battalion (ITB) is a 59-day course. The mission is to train, mentor and evaluate Infantry Marines in specific entry-level tasks under the leadership of Combat Instructors. Marines are instructed in marksmanship, patrolling, grenade usage, identifying and countering improvised explosive devices and land navigation, among other various infantry skills. In doing so, the Infantry Training Battalion provides the Corps with Marines who are fully prepared for service in the operating forces.”
Mind blowing stuff.
After a scaled-down but no less impressive graduation ceremony at Marine Corps Air Station New River, where Camp Geiger is located and where he participated in SOI, Wesley was unceremoniously shipped off to his next school. We had less than an hour to hang with him.
But I relished every second with him – and even took footage of the bus as it left. I am nothing if not dramatic.
For most of the other 03 infantry “grunts,” as they are affectionately called, Geiger was the last school before taking up their positions in the operating forces.
Wesley is finishing up his final school for now in Chesapeake, Virginia – in line with his MOS – or Military Occupational Specialty.
At this point, I have no clue where he will be going after this. He won’t know for another week or so.
I couldn’t be more proud.
Or more terrified.