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Marine Corps Recruiting Command

Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.

3280 Russell Road, 2nd Floor Quantico, Va. 22134
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Teens put themselves to the test for RS SDO's Crucible Challenge

By Sgt. Mike Camacho | 12th Marine Corps District | April 01, 2003

RECRUITING STATION SAN DIEGO -- Recruiting Station San Diego hosted 256 high school students on the first-ever "Crucible Challenge" at Weapons and Field Training Battalion, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif.

The event was created to heighten awareness throughout RS San Diego's area of responsibility, as well as attract students with a higher propensity to enlist.

The event was broken into two parts.  One was for the northern recruiting substations and one for the southern recruiting substations.  This allowed the recruiting stations the ability to host more teens.

"We go out to all kinds of events where the people aren't there to see the Marines," said Wilson.  "I thought bringing our target market to us, where the Marine Corps was the only performer, would boost their likelihood to enlist."

The students began arriving at WFTBN on Friday evening.  They were issued Meals Ready to Eat, sleeping bags and sent in the large open sleeping bays to find their beds for the night.  They also saw a documentary about Marine Corps Recruit Training.

Once everyone arrived and accountability was taken the teenagers were introduced to their chaperone, SgtMaj. Larock Benford, RS San Diego's sergeant major and the Crucible Challenge's Drill Instructor.  Benford taught the students simple Marine Corps things, like how to count-off, for accountability and how to get into a military formation.  During the hour that the sergeant major spent with the teens, all you heard from them was, "Sir, yes sir!" and "Aye, aye sir!"

While their day was over with lights out, their challenge had only begun.

"I'm nervous.  I really don't know what to expect," said Brad Daley, Valley View High School student.

Early morning sounded with a metal trash can slammed into the deck and Benford waking up the teens drill instructor style -- unrelenting, loud and intense with commands like, "Get up, hurry up, move, get on line!"

Benford towered over most of the students and was decked out in the new digital camouflage uniform and a drill instructor hat.

"I love this stuff," said Benford, a former drill instructor.  "And so do these students, they really enjoy seeing the Marine Corps and everything it's about."

The event featured five obstacles where the team had to complete their max effort within four minutes then hurry over to the next obstacle within one minute.  Most obstacles were about 100 yards apart.  So for 29 minutes, these teens were putting forth effort they never knew they had. 

The inflatable obstacle course, pull-ups, crunches, log weaver and rope bridge comprised the challenge.  There were no max points for any event.  The only restraint was time.  In order to score well the teams had to work together.

"Just like the real crucible and everything we do in the Marine Corps, it's all about teamwork," said Wilson.  "We kept that in mind throughout the entire developmental process."

At every obstacle during the event you could hear motivational cheering from the recruiters, friends and teammates.  While many of these teenagers wanted to quit, their teams wouldn't let them.

"This is quite a sight to see.  Some of these kids have never played team sports, and here they are pulling together as a team," said SSgt. Joseph Rocha, Recruiting Station El Centro noncommissioned officer-in-charge.  "It's funny because some of these guys just met, so on the way out here, they weren't really talking to each other.  But when they left they were all calling each other, 'Bro' and hugging."

"Some of these students have never been pushed to their limits before," said SSgt. Craig Harris, RSS Indio NCOIC.  "This event is great because rather than telling them what were all about we actually show these young men and women what were all about and they experience it first hand."

There was no doubt that these teenagers went back into their high schools bragging about how hard it was and creating a buzz about the Marine Corps within the High School.

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