EAU CLAIRE, Wis. --
Graduating Marine Corps recruit training is no easy feat. Recruits undergo a rigorous training schedule designed to test their physical and mental strength. Most struggle just to keep their head down and graduate.
For one Ladysmith, Wis., recruit, however, simply getting by was not an option. She was determined to be the best of the best.
Private First Class Megan Srp graduated recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., May 25, as the company honor graduate.
If a recruit is selected as the guide, it means they have been found to be the top recruit amongst at least 50 other young men or women in their platoon. Once selected, they become responsible for the recruits in their platoon and are in constant competition to maintain that top spot.
Most times this position is filled multiple times throughout recruit training before the drill instructors find the right recruit for the job. The honor graduate is then selected based upon their individual performance in several categories such as leadership, knowledge and physical fitness.
“Although boot camp was challenging physically, for me it was more mental than anything,” said Srp. “Even when it came down to the physical challenges we faced, it became a mental game in order to achieve it. Everything is very hands-on and trial and error, which is how I love to learn. I’d say it’s the perfect definition of a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
Even before enlisting into the Marine Corps Delayed Entry Program, or DEP, where new enlistees can spend up to a year preparing for recruit training, Srp was no stranger to holding leadership positions. She was captain of her sports teams in high school and held responsibilities with extracurricular activities.
For Srp, joining the Marine Corps was about something bigger than herself.
“I wanted to become a Marine because I wanted to be a part of something bigger and better than what I currently was, and for me the Marine Corps was the biggest and best it could get,” said Srp. “I want to wake up every day with a new challenge and to know I am making a difference for the better.”
Her recruiter, Gunnery Sgt. Justin Kellykurth, was not surprised that she took the challenge head on and outperformed her peers. He was impressed by her desire to become a Marine, her maturity and her overall physical ability.
“I was very proud of her and what she had accomplished,” said Gunnery Sgt. Justin Kellykurth, the commander of the Eau Claire recruiting station where Srp enlisted. “She took on the toughest initial training this country had to offer and she did so out performing her peers. It was a pleasure to have helped her take the first steps towards becoming a United States Marine and a humbling experience to see a bright start to the beginning of her career.”
Now that Srp has completed boot camp, she will go to the Marine Corps’ School of Infantry at Camp Geiger, North Carolina, where she will train for her specialty as an infantryman. Her goals include achieving the rank of sergeant within the first three years of her career and continuing to grow mentally while learning as much as possible even when it does not pertain to her field. She also wants to continue to challenge herself physically.
“I hope to continue to be a leader to someone and to inspire other young women, to show that they are capable of doing anything as long as they are willing to work for it,” said Srp.
To become an honor graduate at boot camp is a rare and significant achievement. In the six years that Kellykurth has been recruiting, he has sent hundreds of young men and women to Marine Corps recruit training, yet Srp is the first he sent to earn that title.
“Pfc. Srp had a good foundation as a poolee and now has an even stronger foundation after graduating recruit training,” said Kellykurth. “I believe the sky is the limit for this young Marine. She has a bright future ahead of her and I look forward to hearing about her accomplishments, while serving as a Marine and beyond.”