ANNAPOLIS, Md. --
It was all hands on deck for the Marines and poolees of Recruiting Station Baltimore as the RS hosted its annual field meet at the United States Naval Academy, April 9.
Poolees are highly qualified young men and women who have been accepted for enlistment in the Marine Corps and are awaiting their day to go to recruit training.
The cold, wet April morning began at the Navy Marine Corps Memorial Stadium with an impassioned speech from RS Baltimore’s senior enlisted Marine that fired up the poolees and recruiters from the 11 recruiting substations for the day’s events.
“We’ve got a good, full day ahead of us,” said Sgt. Maj. Brian Taylor, to which the hundreds of poolees roared back “Aye sir!”
To make the transition to recruit training easier for the poolees of RS Baltimore, they are taught basic customs and courtesies, such as giving proper greetings of the day the correct way to respond to Marines.
“I like the way we’re starting off here,” said Taylor, impressed with the level of motivation his poolees brought.
Following the sergeant major’s talk, the poolees were loaded onto buses and transported to Halsey Field House to meet the drill instructors brought in for the day’s events.
During transportation, poolees were ordered to keep their heads in their laps, just as recruits are on the bus ride to the two recruit depots. As the buses came to a stop, drill instructors jumped on and got the poolees out, yelling at anyone who did not move with a sense of urgency.
“We brought drill instructors in from Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., to motivate and push [the poolees] to their limits,” said Taylor.
The first two hours of the field meet was an intense physical training session for poolees. They received incentive training from drill instructors in addition to performing the initial strength test.
Incentive training is a tool used by drill instructors to instill discipline in recruits and to correct mistakes they make in training, such as wearing a uniform incorrectly or not paying attention to details.
The IST is a test consisting of a 2-minute maximum effort set of crunches, a max set of pull-ups, and a timed 1.5 mile run. The test is used to determine a poolee’s level of physical fitness before shipping to recruit training.
Throughout all of this, dozens of parents watched their sons and daughters sweat at the hands of the drill instructors.
“[Parents] may cry when their [poolee] leaves for recruit training, but they’ll be crying tears of joy when they see them graduate as Marines,” said Maj. David C. Hyman, commanding officer, RS Baltimore. “They’ll be proud that their [son or daughter] went through 13 weeks of training to be part of something greater than themselves.”
After their PT session, poolees were treated to a lunch of meals ready to eat (MREs). Almost all of the poolees present had never eaten one before, evidenced by the show of hands after the sergeant major asked who was having an MRE for the first time.
Just like at the recruit depots, where recruits have a limited time to eat their food, poolees only had seven minutes to finish their MRE. Following their break for lunch, the atmosphere loosened up a bit as the drill instructors departed and the recruiters took over for the field meet.
The field meet consisted of three events; a fireman’s carry race, where poolees tossed each other on their shoulders and sprinted for a short distance; dizzy-izzy, a game where participants put their face on a baseball bat and spin around it 10 times before trying to sprint across the field without falling; and a tug-of-war competition.
After a hard-fought battle, the poolees of RSS Columbia, Md. were crowned champions, receiving a giant trophy and bragging rights until next year’s meet.
The stress on teamwork and working under pressure throughout the meet served to prepare the poolees for their training at Parris Island.
“We want [poolees] to get acclimated to what recruit training will be like,” said Taylor.
The stress many poolees endured was evident on their faces, but the thought of three months of training even more intense than the field meet did not discourage Jesse Rowe, an 18 year old high school senior from Dover, Del.
“You go through three months of intense training but then you’re a Marine for life,” said Rowe, who enlisted Sep. 30, 2010, as a field radio operator. “I’ve wanted to be a Marine for two years because of the prestige and brotherhood that comes with being one.”
Rowe, who is a contract private first class because of his participation in Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, has set a high goal for himself when he leaves for Parris Island, June 27.
“I want to be the honor graduate and come back as a lance corporal,” said Rowe.