The United States Marine Corps has a rich and illustrious history of being a close-knit organization built on the foundation of camaraderie, teamwork and an overlying sense of service to others. Marine Recruiting Station Cleveland diligently works to promote these crucial aspects within its ranks. One recruiter in particular is instilling these important traits into the every muscle fiber of his poolees.
In a small Marine Permanent Contact Station in Barberton, Ohio, Staff Sgt. George D. Cushing asks the eight young men in front of him, “If you feel you’re ready to leave for recruit training tomorrow, raise your hand.”
All present eagerly raise their hand, though many just enlisted only a few weeks prior. These eight young men have entered the Marine Corps through the delayed entry program and are now in a pool of enlistees. They are now known as Marine Corps Poolees, a term that sets them apart from the rest of their peers, because they are taking the steps necessary to become a United States Marine.
Cushing attributes the poolees’ immediate response to the way he is preparing them for recruit training, a grueling 13-week training cycle at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, S.C.
“I don’t sugar-coat anything for these guys.” remarked Cushing, who has been on recruiting duty since October. “I don’t want any of my pool to fail at Parris Island. I want to push them hard, so they can be great.”
Cushing prepares his pool by strengthening their minds and bodies. He challenges these eight young men to work hard and get better every day. He trains their bodies with an exhausting workout program and sharpens their minds with Marine Corps history and structure.
Every Saturday, Cushing tests his poolees’ progress with a rigorous physical training routine, which includes a cardio, upper body and abdominal workout.
“The work outs tear you up,” said Ben Sayler, a 2008 Willard High School graduate, “The workout he put me on is constant.
“It’s tough, but I’ve seen a lot of progress,” Sayler said. “I started only being able to do two or three pull-ups. Now I can do seven and it’s only been three weeks. Staff Sgt. Cushing really pushes me.”
For Andrew Dilbeck, a Manchester High School senior, Cushing’s demeanor and guidance makes him want to strive harder to get himself ready for training.
“He (Cushing) shows us how to be good Marines. He tells us what to expect and prepares us for the stress,” said the Manchester High School senior. “Sometimes, I think I would be better off to just be surprised, but it is good to be prepared.
“When he takes us on runs, he sings cadence and expects us to put out 110 percent. He wants us to be the best, and that makes me want to work harder.”
Cushing’s dedication to his poolees spurs from his love of leading Marines in the fleet Marine force.
“The worst part of being out on recruiting duty is not having my Marines to lead and mentor,” Cushing said intently. “I live Saturday to Saturday. I love leading these poolees. Doing this makes me feel like I’m still a staff sergeant of Marines in the fleet.”
According to Cushing’s supervisor, Staff Sgt. Bill LeMasters, the gains that Cushing has inspired with his poolees are epic in proportion to the time he has been on recruiting duty.
“In four months Staff Sgt. Cushing has taken guys doing only a few pull ups and crunches to leaders of their peer group. When we have pool functions for our entire recruiting substation, his poolees shine as leaders.” LeMasters remarked. “His eight poolees are some of the strongest we have in our total pool of 44. We use his guys as small unit leaders and examples of what hard work and motivation can achieve.”
Working in line with the goals of the Marine Corps training process, Cushing’s tireless devotion to his pool greatly contributes to the next generation of Marines. His caring and firm approach to teaching and leading has made a lasting impression on those under his charge and will likely benefit the Marine Corps for many years to come.