The bus driver yells, “keep your heads down and close your eyes.” I can feel us getting closer to the chaos. I hear kids crying and shaking, because we are scared. We are scared of what is going to be on the other side of that bus door when it swings open. It is not the fact of where we are going, but the fact that the unknowing is what drives the stake to our hearts.  The bus stops and in runs a drill instructor screaming, “GET THE FUCK OFF,” We all yell back, “I sir!” The drill instructor looks back at all of us and says, “do I look like a sir?” I thought to myself, oh great not even a minute into it and we have already messed up. “I rush off the bus and take my spot on the yellow foot prints, trying not to mess up again, and three drill instructors swarm a kid too slow to get there. I hear them yelling at the kid, spit flying, the kid has no idea how to respond so he yells, “I Sir” over and over again until the drill instructors are satisfied and finally gives the poor kid a break.  I think to myself, “how am I goanna survive this?

0600 (6:00am) its time wake up get dressed and make our bed in the squad bay. The drill instructor yells at us to get on line and we all respond as fast as we can. I did not finish fast enough, and my rack (bed) is not properly made with no wrinkles and a 90-degree angle at the edges. The drill instructor comes over and yells at me and makes me stand there while he inspects the rack. In return to my rack not being made correctly in his ridiculous standards, the drill instructor flips my rack and destroys everything around it. He makes me look at the rack and yells at me to fix it, and while I fix it, everyone in my squad made up of 40 plus recruits has to do whatever ridiculous exercise the drill instructor comes up with. Keep in mind that these drill instructors and the rest of the marine corps believe in mass punishment. The reason this is because it singles out the one person that messed up by embarrassing him and making his fellow recruits hate him for making them go through this pain even though he was not the one that made them do it. Some of the creative exercises the drill instructors come up with are to hold out an object and I mean anything. I have held up my heavy foot locker to a rifle to even a little as just my hands with your elbows locked out as a punishment. You would be surprised how heavy your hands can get while holding your hands out for a long time. The drill instructors would get in your head telling you that you are weak because your arms start to drop, but if that happens he again singles you out and you have to start all over. If you find it hard to believe that holding something out with your elbows locked keeping it nipple-line-high try this. Hold a piece of paper with both hands out with your elbows locked at your nipple line for a long period of time. I tell you a piece of paper would never seem so heavy after awhile. The squad bay is not a place to be because that is when there is no witness to see what the drill instructors can do to you. I remember late at night when I had to do fire watch (guard duty) you could hear the recruits yell out, “I SIR” in their sleep. There is no escape that even in your sleep there is a drill instructor in your face. What kept going through my head is, “I can’t give up,” even though the drill instructors tell you that you are lower than a piece of shit. In their words, “you are nothing, you should give up, get out of my marine corps you piece of nothing.”

There was an obstacle course one day and the drill instructors tried to just do just that, and make me quit through their words, I came to the final obstacle not being able to feel my legs or arms, and I had to climb this rope. I get half way and slide down. The drill instructor yells out, “IS THAT ALL YOU CAN DO PUSSY?’ I try again and same result, and yet again the drill instructor yells at me, “GET UP THE FUCKING ROPE YOU WASTE OF AIR.” I’m mad now and attempt a third time. I get half way and my arms give out and fall all the way down and land on my back. My back hurts, I can’t feel anything on my body and the drill instructor is laughing at me. I want to give up maybe I can’t do this, and other recruits have already finished. “FUCK THAT”, I can’t give up, I have to do this for me, and I can do this. I rap my foot around the rope and place the other foot on top and start to go up. I get half way and my hands are slipping. I think to myself, “am I goanna fall? NO! push more, keep going, and keep pushing.” I made it to the top. This was my turning point. I can do anything. All I have to do is push myself and not give up.     

The hell never stops from day to night until final test day. We call the final test day “The Crucible” it is an extended period in the middle of nowhere were they test and teach you how to survive. You are hungry, exhausted, cold, hurt, and hate life at this point. It starts off with a 15-mile hike to the area where you feel like this might be the final nail on your coffin. Along the road of the 15 miles of water up to your knees, you hear your fellow recruit cry out that he can’t do this. The instructors sense the weakness and pounces on this recruit. Let’s just say he did not make it with my class. I think to myself, “don’t give up! You can do this.” During this walk, you think to yourself why you don’t want to give up. I thought of how I don’t want to disappoint my family. How I could not look myself in the eye if I quit now. I would rather drop down and pass out, or I would have to be physically stopped before I would give up. Every time I found myself on the verge to give up I thought this.   

The attitude of the need to succeed got me all the way through to the end. The day finally came, I was a Marine.  You think that day was when you graduate, or when you are wearing your fancy uniform. No! That is when you are coved in mud, broken from a long crucible, tears in your eyes, heart lifted to the sky, prouder then you can ever be. Your drill instructor, jailer, hell bringer, the man you hated gives you your First EGA (Eagle Globe and Anker). I am done I am finally moved up from someone lower than shit. I kept my mental toughness and did not give up I am finally something, a Marine, and a Marine never gives up.