Recruits, packed into a dimly-lit bus, arrived at Marine Corps. Recruit Depot-San Diego after "travel day." Even before the bus parked, the training began.
"All of you look at me right now!" a drill sergeant yelled.
"Aye, aye, sir!" the recruits shouted in near-unison.
"Aye, sir?" the sergeant repeated after them. The recruits echoed him even louder.
"You will not take anything out of your pockets, do you understand?!" the sergeant continued, instructing the recruits on exactly how they were to exit the bus and proceed through a contraband check.
"Aye, aye, sir!" the recruits answered in near-unison. Immediately, the bus unloaded in a hurry -- recruits charging from their seats, down the narrow aisle, and streaming through the doors to arrange themselves in yellow footprints painted on the cement outside. They were hurried on by shouts from other Marines waiting for them outside. The recruits arranged themselves in a neat line, only to be walked past by another Marine.
"From now on," he instructed them in a stern tone, "you will live, eat, sleep, and train as a team. Do you understand?!"
"Aye, aye, sir!" the recruits answered in near-unison. The recruits charged inside, directed by Marines, to the contraband room to be inspected.
"Scream at the top of your lungs at all times!" they were instructed. The recruits answered just as directed.
"You will do exactly what I say, when I say, and how I say it!" the instructor continued. "Do you understand?!"
"Aye, aye, sir!" the recruits answered in near-unison.
Next, the recruits were arranged in neat lines in front of telephone banks, given the opportunity for their one and only telephone call home for the next 13 weeks.
"The only words that will come out of your mouth," a Marine told them, "is whatever is on that sign." The Marine gestured to a sign mounted in front of each telephone.
"Hello, this is Recruit Wyatt," one spoke into the telephone, reading directly from the sign in front of him. He gave no hesitation or chance to answer on the other side of the line. "I have arrived safely at MCRD San Diego. The next time I contact you will be by postal mail, so expect a letter in two to three weeks. I love you, goodbye."
After their calls were finished, the recruits were led to a separate room to receive their haircuts. Marine barbers used electric buzzers to shear away the recruits' individual hair styles, giving them the neat, tight cut to be expected from Marines.
Moved away from the Marine recruits, FOX34 joined an "Educator's Workshop" held each year by the USMC. It's intended to strengthen bonds between educators and recruiters by putting them through a short version of what the recruits would be.
"You will give a hundred percent of yourselves at all times," an instructor shouted at the educators. "Obey orders quickly, willingly, and without question!"
"Aye, aye, sir!" the coaches, counselors, principals and teachers shouted in near-unison.
The brief, but intense, training began that day for the educators. Physical training, including rope climbs, pit crawls, and obstacle courses awaited the teachers to test their mettle. It culminated in hand-to-hand training and drills in combat fatigues.
Still separated from the recruits they rode into MCRD-SD with, the educators were given a chance to see the career opportunities that await Marines after graduation from the 13 week training regimen. At Miramar Air Station, the teachers saw fighter jets used in mock combat and humanitarian relief sorties.
From there, the educators were inspired by other Marines who had served as long-time veterans, listening to their stories and testimonies about their time in the service.
"You know, the mental challenges," a Marine combat correspondent explained, describing the intense training that the recruits were going through in their final step to becoming a Marine, "the physical challenges... it just does so much to your mind. Getting that... there's no other feeling that you can relate to it, because... well," he trailed off.
This was as the batch of recruits were coming off the "Grim Reaper" -- the culminating step in the 54-hour long "Crucible" challenge. Recruits were limited food and sleep for the past two days, in addition to their standard physical training..
"That's why they call us 'the few, the proud,'" he concluded. "Not everybody can do this."
With the Crucible challenge completed, drill instructors shook hands with the recruits while handing them the iconic pin with the Marines' eagle, globe, and anchor. After enduring 11 weeks of intense training and mental wearing, the new Marines were gathered around a flag pole as they listened to another Marine sergeant encourage them.
"You know now," he said sternly, confidently, "that you can overcome personal issues with perserverence, courage, and teamwork."
"Yes, drill sergeant!" the recruits shouted in perfect unison.
Around the flag pole, the officers led the new Marines in a chant of the Marine Hymn.
"From the halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli..." the grounds rang with the proud shouting. "We're United States Marines!" they finished at the top of their lungs -- as ordered.
Marching bands, processions, and marches celebrated the end of 13 weeks of training for the newest members of the US Marine Corps. It was a celebration for all of them -- as a unit, as well as for themselves. Families joined them to watch their graduation, hugging and cheering on their sons, brothers, cousins, and friends.
The preceding is only a small, very compressed portion of what these recruits went through during their week at MCRD-SD. For more of their stories, interviews, and the intense five days FOX34 was able to participate, see the following links:Becoming a Marine Day 1: New recruits enter MCRD San DiegoBecoming a Marine Day 2: Recruits face tough physical challengesBecoming a Marine Day 3: Recruits endure more training for jobsBecoming a Marine Day 4: The Crucible, recruits earn Marine titleBecoming a Marine Day 5: Graduation Day, Recruits become Marines