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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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Midshipmen receive life lessons

By Cpl. Shawn M. Toussaint | | August 30, 2002

MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- For the newest students enrolled in the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps at the University of San Diego and San Diego State University, a good start meant coming to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, to receive a five-day orientation on military skills and knowledge.  The midshipmen began training aboard the depot Aug. 19, and graduated Aug. 23.

"The orientation is great," said Steven G. Merkel a freshmen at USD.  "It gets you started on the right foot."

The objective of the orientation was to give the newcomers an idea of what life would be like as NROTC students.  For many of these students, the orientation was the first time they had been on an actual military base.

For some of the candidates, the orientation served as a tool to teach them how to work as a team.  During the five-day training evolution, the candidates lived similarly to the way Marine recruits live.  The candidate's entire day was set to a timetable.  The timetable laid out everything from what time they would wake up in the morning to what time they would eat and practice drill.  This kind of training cultivates teamwork, according to Sgt. Julie M. Balow.

Balow has been enrolled in the Marine Enlisted Commissioning Education Program for the past two years at USD, and volunteered to be the 2nd Platoon platoon sergeant during the orientation.  Drawing from her own experiences as a Marine, she believes she can deliver an accurate picture of what training should be like.

"We (the instructors) understand this is not boot camp," said Balow.  "However, we do want it to be somewhat of a humbling experience for them, because for some of them it will be the only experience like this they will receive during their military or civilian careers.  Our main object is to provide them with a sense of discipline and teamwork."

Many of the freshmen picked up on these intangibles and were able to describe what they actually were being taught.

"The military is more than just marching and drilling in formation," said Joshua S. Jimenez, a freshmen at SDSU.  "The military is about learning how to work as a team and accepting your responsibilities."

The program is effective at developing discipline, teamwork and leadership skills according to Suzanne A. Ritter a sophomore midshipman at USD and orientation instructor.

"The program instills discipline," said Ritter.  "I think many of them don't learn military discipline in high school.  Teaching discipline along with the basics of drilling, uniform appearance and leadership is our primary focus."

The freshman are not expected to become experts on the military in one week, but they are expected to learn discipline, which will make them better midshipmen in their respective NROTC units when they get to school, according to Merkel.

Ritter is a firm believer in the program's leadership development opportunities.

"Last year I learned the basics, how to wear a uniform, drilling and discipline," said Ritter.  "This year I'm developing my confidence as a leader."

For most, the orientation provided an understanding of the military, according to Ritter.

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