Cleveland, Ohio --
After a week of rain, snow, and sub-freezing temperatures, Mother Nature warmed up Hogback Ridge Park as Marines and future Marines descended upon the grounds Feb. 18. The ground was mostly dry as the future Marines or poolees as they are called arrived at “point one,” a lone pavilion in a clearing surrounded by woods. On the tables lay maps, protractors, pens, and most importantly compasses. The poolees of Marine Corps Recruiting Sub-Station Mentor were about to learn the critical skill of land navigation.
“I’ve seen a compass before, but never really understood what everything meant or how to really use it,” said Jose Mendez, a senior at Riverside High School. “It was really exciting to learn how everything works and how to find my way in the old-school manner.”
Standing behind a large military reference grade system map of the area, Gunnery Sgt. Paul Folk starts to explain the basics of land navigation to the poolees.
“I don’t want to steal the drill instructors thunder,” said Folk, the staff non-commissioned officer-in-charge of RSS Mentor. “I just wanted to ensure that these young men had the opportunity to see this gear and know something before arriving down there and learning it all in the harsh world of Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island.”
After explaining the map, grid coordinates, how to plot coordinates, and how to find an azimuth, the poolee’s were given five random points and sent into the woods with only a compass, map, and protractor to find their way.
“On paper it was really easy,” said Eric Nagy, a senior at Conneaut High School. “Once we got into the woods and started trying to walk in a straight line toward our point is when it started to get complicated. It was really good to get a chance to see and experience this before going to recruit training.”
The points were marked with poles that had numbers attached to them. Once all five points were located, the poolees rallied back at the pavilion to enjoy a lunch together and talk about their adventures.
“Today was meant to give these poolees some experience with some of the equipment they will use at Parris Island and later on in their Marine Corps careers,” said Folk. “We want them to see what it is like being part of a brotherhood and what it is like to be a Marine.”