Interview With a Combat Marine Corps Veteran [Part 1]

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Interview With a Combat Marine Corps Veteran [Part 1]

My husband isn’t a writer. That’s why I’m the blogger in the relationship. And I don’t mean to brag, but he’s a pretty awesome dude. Which is why I decided to interview him about his experience in the Marine Corps. and share with you his responses. The fitness aspect of this is crazy. I mean, it surpasses what any civilian views as “fitness”. It’s some kind of intense physical and mental preparedness that I can’t even really perceive. And it’s funny to me how he talks about it like it’s no big deal. This is Part 1 of a 2 part series.

What made you join the Marine Corp?

I did it for the college money. No not really. It’s hard to pinpoint a single reason, but I grew up in West Texas where people are very patriotic. My grandpas both fought in WWII and one was in the Marines. Growing up I knew I wanted the discipline of the marines, I knew the marines were badass and hardcore and I wanted to be that. I knew that if the US ever went to war, that I wanted to be in the Marine Corps infantry. When I was in high school I had spoken to a Marine Corps sniper who served in Somalia. He told me that if I wanted to “be in the shit when the shit hits the fan", to go into the Marine Corps Infantry.

What was your initial impression once you were in?

“This is awesome. I made the right decision.” I was really impressed by all the history of the Marine Corps, the camaraderie and the extraordinary things that Marines did in the past to fight for our nation. The things they did were unreal, out of this world. In boot camp I felt like I learned more about history and the Marine Corps history than I learned about history overall in any of my high school history classes.

What was the basic training like? What physical transformations did you notice?

The basic training was a lot of close order drill where you learn about marching and carrying your weapon. You learn a lot of discipline, how to work together as a cohesive unit. I had a lot of PT, calisthenics, running and obstacle courses.

I gained 20 lbs [of muscle] by eating 3 square meals and exercising every day. Pull-ups increased, running got faster, my abs got stronger. I was cut. My parents came to my graduation and could tell that I looked different.

What other training did you complete after boot camp?

School of Infantry. This is where you learn to fire different machine guns, learn about patrolling and close quarters combat. You get treated kind of bad and do a lot of road marches with a pack and all your weapons. You throw grenades and learn all the different weapons and fire them. Its long days in a tough environment.

After School of Infantry I tried out for Recon. It’s a physical fitness test which is a 3-mile run (18 minutes is a perfect score), max set pull-ups (20 strict consecutive pull-ups is a perfect score), max set sit-ups (100 in 2 minutes is a perfect score). Then you have to tread water for 30 minutes with full uniform in close contact with 30 other men, sometimes with your hands up out of the water. Then a 500 meter swim in under 12 minutes and 25 meter underwater swim. Then a 25 meter swim with a 10lb brick out of the water. Then you do an 8-mile Ruck run uphill with a 50lbs sandbag, full camouflage utilities, load bearing vest, boots and water. All of this was to compete for a slot to go to Recon School.

Amphibious Reconnaissance School (Recon School)- This is where you become a Marine Recon. It’s an extremely physically demanding school consisting of patrolling, a lot of swimming, jumping out of helicopters, doing water missions and knife fighting. We did repelling out of a helicopter, fast roping and getting pulled out of the water by a helicopter. I had a seven day patrol with over a 100lb pack on my back the entire time, carrying a machine gun, no sleep for the first 4 days and once a day meals. Everyone starts hallucinating. That’s just what happens. You have to carry a gas mask because if anyone of the team falls asleep or makes a mistake, the team gets gassed. I remember when it was over I had ticks on my body. We were out in the elements. It would rain on us and freeze at night. At the end of the patrol, there is an 8 mile ruck run where everyone is together and you get gassed at the beginning. Then the biggest guy on the team is simulated to have been shot and you have to carry the man back, crossing a river. At the end they give you orange slices and a shower. It’s the best tasting oranges you ever had.  We also did a run where we had to cross a pond that was frozen on the top, where we broke through the ice and swam across.

Marine Combative Dive School- When you get here, you are already an elite athlete. It’s very physically demanding and requires a lot of physical fitness tests involving sit-ups, pull-ups, pushups and swimming a 10K in the ocean in full Camouflage uniform. Students learn all the ins and outs of SCUBA. You dive in the ocean at night with no light and swim really fast, for 2000 meters while wearing full camouflage uniform and carrying a rifle while you’re tethered to a partner. At dive school, you get “sharked”. An instructor goes into the water and rips the air regulator out of your mouth and all your dive gear off and then bangs you around to simulate being tossed in the surf. Then you calmly “unfuck” yourself.

SERE School (Survive, Evade, Resist and Escape)- Learned Survival skills, tactics like setting up snares, collecting water from leaves and the soil. Learned about eating different types of plants. Practiced land navigation, and learned how to evade someone who is trying to capture you and once captured, how to resist interrogation. During an entire 7-day week I survived on one canteen cup of rabbit stew and a couple pieces of cactus. I lost 10 lbs.

Army Airborn School. This was the easiest school I went to. It’s basically a 3-week vacation where I got to jump out of airplanes. (haha!)

You can read Part 2 of this interview here.

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