Marine Corps Recruit Training transforms its graduates into U.S. Marines, and most will experience some form of personal transformation, either mental or physical.
For one recent graduate, his transformation had to occur at the recruiting station before he would even be allowed to continue his journey to recruit training.
When Pfc. Robert Eckhoff a native of Cuyawoga county, Ohio, walked into the recruiting office for the first time in Maple Heights, Ohio he wasn’t the ideal candidate. By Marine Corps height and weight standards, standards that dictate the allowable weight for a person based on their height, Eckhoff was over-weight. He needed to lose 40 pounds to qualify to join the distinguished ranks of the Marines.
“It was a hard pill to swallow,” said Eckhoff. “When I was told I can’t join because of my weight I didn’t know what to think.”
Staff Sgt. Sergeant Koch reassured him, according to Eckhoff. He explained that if Eckhoff put in the effort and work, he would be there to guide and support him.
“My father had never seen me so dedicated to a cause,” said Eckhoff. “I wanted to change so I went to the office every day. I worked out every day. I cut all sodas and junk food from my diet. I wanted to join and my weight wasn’t going to stop me.”
Koch opened the door for Eckhoff, but refused to escort him through it. It was up to Eckhoff to do what needed to be done.
“Once he started no one could stop him,” said Koch. “Rain, snow or shine he showed up to the office. He worked harder than professional athletes do.”
All his work paid off. From November 2013 to April 2015 Eckhoff lost 45 pounds to reach the maximum allowable weight for his height to join the Marines. Eckhoff didn’t stop there. He kept working hard every day and left for Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina in March of 2015.”Rrecruit training was tough,” said Eckhoff. “Mentally and physically I was pushed to my limits. The help from my recruiters and the work I did before going to Parris Island definitely helped me while I was there.”
When he returned home from after graduating recruit training his parents barely recognized him and his friends were rendered speechless, according to Eckhoff. He had lost another 30 pounds during recruit training. During his transformation from beginning to end he lost a total of 75 pounds.
Eckhoff is now in Basic Financial Management School in Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.