Marine Corps drill instructors gave a small taste of Marine Corps life to Argo Community High School students and Marine Corps poolees in Summit, Illinois, Nov. 4, during the annual Semper Fi Saturday event.
The event was created in 2010 by the Marine recruiters with Recruiting Substation Oak Lawn to give high school students appreciation of the Marine Corps by giving them a first-hand experience into how Marines are made.
When the recruiters approached Greg Kolke, a science teacher at Argo Community High School who also served as a Marine from 1983-1987, about doing this event in 2010 he was all for it.
“This is just a great event for all involved,” said Kolke. “Events like these show our students what the Marine Corps is all about and it brings a level of respect.”
Before the event officially began, Marine recruiters from Recruiting Substation Oak Lawn, Recruiting Station Chicago, formed all the students and poolees into three platoons. The recruiters explained that the next 12 hours were not going to be easy and will be one of the most difficult things they have ever done.
There was a brief pause. Then, it got real.
Three drill instructors from Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, wasted no time when they came running into the gym.
Much like when recruits step on the yellow footprints at MCRD Parris Island, S.C., or MCRD San Diego, Calif., the drill instructors made sure the students and poolees were standing at the position of attention, feet at a 45-degree angle, hands along the seams of their pants and heads and eyes forward.
The drill instructors immediately had all the students’ and poolees’ undivided attention.
“We wanted to give them a taste of what we go through as Marines,” said Sgt. Mario Bermudez, a recruiter with RSS Oak Lawn, RS Chicago.
The whole night wasn’t just about recruit training – that was only an hour.
For the next 11 hours, the drill instructors and recruiters filled every minute with weapons classes and physical fitness training to professional military education and military occupational specialties.
They even ran a combat fitness test, or CFT, to demonstrate why men and women need to be in great physical shape for the rigors of combat.
“It is important to show the students and poolees who want to join any branch of service, that it’s more than just war,” said Staff Sgt. Dominique Young, a drill instructor with Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, Recruit Training Regiment, MCRD Parris Island. “We also wanted to show them there is a process of weeding out the weak.”
Toward the end of the evening, all the students and poolees received Marine Corps sleeping bags and slept for three hours, after an exhausting nine hours of continuous instruction. The event ended after they cleaned up their areas and ate breakfast.
Kolke said the event was a hit that gave the students more confidence.
“It’s important for the kids to challenge themselves,” Kolke said. “I think the event was a huge success and the students can’t stop talking about it.”