Marines Storm Castle Island
By Staff Sgt. Ken Tinnin
| | May 20, 2005
MARINE CORPS RECRUITING STATION PORTSMOUTH, N.H. --
More than 300 young men and women in the Marine Corps’ Delayed Entry Program, and 66 Marines from Marine Corps Recruiting Station Portsmouth, N.H., spent the night at Fort Independence located on Castle Island in Boston, the site of the first Marine encampment in New England, May 20-21. The event was in conjunction with the visit of the USS John F. Kennedy and the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit to Boston.
The poolees arrived Friday night, coming from all over Maine, New Hampshire and Eastern Massachusetts. They set up camp inside the fort and participated in several events such as a two-mile run, observed a Morning Colors Ceremony aboard the USS John F. Kennedy, saw a static display of weapons used by the 24th MEU during operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, marched in a parade to honor Boston Marines who have served in worldwide operations and also reaffirmed their enlistment oath.
For many, these events were their first taste of military life. The highlight of weekend for most poolees was interacting with the four drill instructors who flew up from Parris Island, S.C., to help out with the event.
“It was a rush,” said Jayson Richter, 18, from Ellsworth, Maine, and a poolee from Marine Corps Recruiting Substation Northern Maine, who is scheduled to leave June 27 for Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island S.C. “The drill instructors introduced me to a whole different world. It gave me a better idea of what to expect at boot camp and how to act around the drill instructors when I get to recruit training. It was a great introduction to the Marine lifestyle.”
David Olszak, 21, from Chicopee, Mass. agreed with Richter.
“The drill instructors definitely helped get my mind ready for recruit training,” said Olszak. “I attended the Citadel for a year, so I really like the camaraderie of the military.” Olszak is scheduled to go to recruit training June 6, and will later attend military police training.
The four drill instructors conducted classes on military customs and courtesies, close order drill and answered questions about what to expect when they arrive at recruit training. The classes motivated the poolees, but also served another purpose.
“Having us in their faces and stressing them out gives them an idea of what to expect when they get to recruit training,” said Drill Instructor Staff Sgt. Jonathan Novak, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, MCRD Parris Island, S.C. “They also need to take away from this experience that the drill instructors are looking for perfection and they will not accept anything less than perfection.”
Not only did the poolees get a taste of recruit training thanks to the drill instructors, but also witnessed the gratitude displayed by the people of Boston for the Marines by marching in a parade.
“Seeing all the people line the streets cheering and supporting the Marines who served in Iraq and Afghanistan was very motivating,” said Richter. “It’s good that people appreciate what the Marines do for this country.”
After the parade the poolees reaffirmed their oath in a ceremony conducted by 24th MEU Commanding Officer Col. Ronald Johnson.
Following the reaffirming ceremony, the Marines were scheduled to have a cookout and their annual field meet, but Boston’s weather did not cooperate.
“The Field Meet portion of our event was cancelled due to rain,” said RS Portsmouth Pool Coordinator Gunnery Sgt. Cory Mitchell, “But the event was still a major success. The poolees got a chance to meet and talk with other poolees, view morning colors aboard the USS John F. Kennedy, talk to Marines from the 24th MEU and see weapons systems they will encounter out in the fleet. They also got to experience drill instructors first hand and get a small taste of what recruit training will be like. I think they left with a better understanding of the Marine Corps and more motivated about becoming Marines.”