Demanding senior drill instructor instills discipline
| | January 31, 2003
MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif. --
A hornet lands on a recruit's face in the middle of a uniform inspection and begins to crawl up and down. It starts to tickle and then becomes an unsettling itch. Drops of sweat pour down the recruit's face as the itching becomes more and more unbearable. What makes this recruit stand still? Why doesn't he swat the hornet away? The answer is simple. He has discipline.
Where does this discipline come from? Discipline is instilled in Marines from day one, according to Staff Sgt. Adam L. Sandercock, senior drill instructor, Platoon 1142, Company C.
"Discipline is what it all boils down to," said Sandercock. "If you instill discipline from day one, more often than not, you will be satisfied with the finished product."
Growing up in Salem, Ore., Sandercock said he has known discipline for a long time. He has worked fulltime since high school.
As a senior in high school, he knew he was destined for the military, but he didn't know what branch was right for him. When a Marine Corps recruiter contacted him, he decided the Corps was for him.
"I knew it was time for me to get my life going in some kind of positive direction," said Sandercock. "I contacted my recruiter and off I went."
In February 1993, Sandercock arrived at the Depot, and was in for quite a ride. He said the drill instructors were loud and intense from the very beginning, and they never let up.
"I just remember seeing the drill instructors everywhere," said the scratchy-voiced Marine. "They would always be wherever I was, even if I didn't think they were anywhere close. They motivated me and taught me discipline in ways I never thought were possible. They were relentless."
After recruit training and Marine Combat Training, Sandercock was off to motor transportation school at Camp Johnson, N.C.
From there, he went to Okinawa, Japan, for his first duty station. Once he reached the rank of sergeant, he applied for Inspector Instructor duty and was accepted and stationed in Boise, Idaho.
"Up to this point, I and I duty was the highlight of my career," said Sandercock. "That is where I got my first taste of teaching Marines and I ultimately volunteered for drill instructor duty. I really enjoy teaching."
Sandercock said he became a drill instructor to teach Marines while they were early in their Marine Corps careers.
"As a recruit, one is more open to training, mainly because they have to do what they're told," said Sandercock. "Discipline factors into (training) very much because in recruit training, they all have to look the same, say the same things and do the same training."
Sandercock came into his first training cycle somewhat unprepared, he admitted. The long hours increased his stress and added several personal discomforts.
"From the way we have to yell, our voices tend to (become) hoarse. We are constantly moving around and our feet swell. It's little things like that I wasn't expecting. I used the discipline I knew to overcome those things," said Sandercock.
Somewhat downtrodden in his first cycle, he used advice from more experienced drill instructors. Eventually, the 28-year-old molded himself into his ideal, model of a drill instructor.
"Staff Sgt. Sandercock has really become an awesome teacher," said Staff Sgt. David S. Baldock, drill instructor, Platoon 1137, Company C. "The way he instills discipline into his recruits is uncanny. He makes awesome Marines."
Once he finished his first cycle, he felt relieved, but most of all, accomplished.
"I felt a huge sense of pride and accomplishment after my first cycle," said Sandercock. "I felt great pride knowing that I make Marines. I also began to understand the importance of my job; the future of the Marine Corps depends on the drill instructors and how we teach the recruits. We have a strict, simple mission, and that is to make Marines."
Sandercock said he tries to teach the recruits the monumental importance of a Marine's sense of discipline.
"The Marines have a tradition to uphold, and as Marines, are obligated to rise up to the highest standards possible," said Sandercock.
Sandercock said his techniques have produced good results. As a junior drill instructor, one of his platoons was selected as the honor platoon, and last cycle, he was given the Band of Brothers award, which is an award given to the most outstanding drill instructor in Company C.
"The award doesn't compare to what I get from the recruits I train. I get to see their progress and the more disciplined they become, the better Marines they become. Being a drill instructor is by far the most challenging and rewarding thing I've ever done," said Sandercock.
This is Sandercock's last cycle as a drill instructor. Over the past two years, he has made hundreds of Marines.
With his time in the "trenches" winding down, he plans to spend his free time fishing and big game hunting, a pastime he has enjoyed since he was a youth.
Discipline is the major training tool Sandercock uses, but he said he has gained more discipline himself.
"Since becoming a drill instructor, I have gradually learned to be more disciplined in all walks of life," said Sandercock. "I learned to practice what I preach, and it will help me in everything else I do."