Tuesday, January 24th, 2006
Photographer Mati Kerpen and I were picked up by Staff Sergeant Joseph Moneymaker at 3:00 a.m. to go to the Richmond International Airport to be taken to Marine Corps Recruiting Depot on Parris Island, South Carolina.
SSgt Moneymaker actually arrived around 2:15 a.m., but waited patiently as Mati checked, and re-checked all the equipment from his self-made checklist needed for the shoot on Parris Island. We finally left around 3:30 a.m. Tuesday morning to go pick up Richard Lilly, a teacher at Charlottesville High School, also going on the trip to Parris Island.
We arrived at RIC around 5:00 a.m., and drove around -- in a marked government sports utility vehicle -- aimlessly looking for the proper parking at the airport. We finally pull up to the correct terminal, but to find most of the airport under construction. This caused a problem for parking, so we improvised. SSgt Moneymaker parked near the entrance to the terminal, but kindly mentioned to security he was on official business of the United States Marine Corps, and asked he not be towed because he would be returning shortly.
We all walk inside the airport to be greeted by U.S.M.C. representatives, and others taking part in the Educator's Workshop. We got our badges, and checked baggage to go on with the flight (Mati was a bit disappointed for an outrageous charge/fee for the case used to protect our equipment on the trip).
We board our flight from Richmond, and land at the Dulles International Airport, for our connecting flight to Savannah, Georgia. Time passes, and then we board the flight, and land in Savannah, GA. Once we land in Savannah, GA-- we (along with 81 educators from the Richmond, VA and Louisville, KY Marine Corps districts) pile onto a bus to be taken to a nice country club near the airport. I lost sense of time at this point, but we eventually get onto a schedule later.
We leave the country club, and make it to the hotel to check in. One problem though, somehow there were not enough rooms for us to have separate rooms as requested. Nonetheless, the awesome photographer did not settle, and we were granted separate rooms at a hotel across the street from where everyone else was staying. No problem for us since we had our own separate rooms.
Once we were checked in, we got onto the bus, and made our way to dinner at an Officer's Club on Parris Island.
Following dinner, Mati and I went to the yellow footprints, which is just outside of the doors at the building for receiving recruits. EVERY civilian east of the Mississippi River (with the exception of all females) hoping to earn the title of United States Marine, get off teh bus and onto teh footprints. We watched them come off the bus and take their first steps on the yellow footprints of Parris Island.
Wednesday, January 25th, 2006
We watched the educator's version of "Recieving" around 7:00a.m. It was really funny to see the teachers (including Richard Lilly from Charlottesville High School) get off the bus, and treated like real recruits. Some were nervous, scared, and jusy confused. If you could have seen their eyes-- would ould have thought they were really signed up for the U.S. Marine Corps Boot Camp.
Later that morning, we got to observe 'Grass Week' with real recruits. Grass week is the week prior to firing the M16-A2 service rifle, where recruits are taught the fundamentals of firing the weapon, and the correct firing positions.
We were able to see swim qualifications around 9:00a.m. on Wednesday, too. This was the part when recruits are taught the basics of combat water survival. Recruits who prove to be better swimmers can advance to a higher level of combat water survival.
We were also able to see the 'Known Distance Firing Course' around 10:00a.m. on Wednesday. This is the week after Grass Week when recruits apply what they where taught. All recruits MUST qualify on the rifle range because EVERY Marine is a rifleman no matter what their job is while in the Corps.
We were able to have lunch around 11:30a.m. Lunch ended at 12:00p.m.
Around 12:10p.m., we observed the 'Crucible' with recruits who were just days from graduation, and earning the title of United States Marine. Only female recruits were coming throug the woods at the time, and not much was going on since they were basically too tired, and just going through the motions of warfare. The 'Crucible' is the 54-hour culmination to the transformation of recxruit training. It is a physically and mentally challenging event that involves food abd sleep deprivation and the completion of various obstacles for the potential Marine to negotiate.
Around 2:00p.m., Mati and me got the opportunity to fire the M16-A2 service rifle. It was a blast for me to shoot it. Mati says he really enjoyed it. I believe we have video of him shooting it. He is left-handed, so the video may not him too well.