“Nothing good comes out of anything easy,” the Marine stated, the conviction strong in his voice. This motto was his driving force through the 13 weeks of the blood, sweat and tears he had shed during Marine Corps recruit training.
Thirteen weeks earlier, as Pfc. Jarrod Eggleston looked around at his platoon of fellow recruits, he wondered what he had gotten himself into. He perceived the platoon as merely a group of individuals, not the cohesive team he had expected. They struggled to yell loud enough, move fast enough, and complete tasks efficiently enough to satisfy their very demanding drill instructors. Mental and physical exhaustion had caused them to turn against one another, instead of uniting in their common goal to become Marines. The drill instructors played mental games with them, instructing them to complete certain tasks over and over. Eggleston’s senior drill instructor would repeat the phase “given, never earned” to antagonize the recruits – a play on the common Marine Corps phase “earned, never given”, which refers to the effort that goes into earning the title of Marine.
However, as training progressed, Eggleston began to realize that many of those early obstacles his platoon faced were lessening by the day. He recalled one of the most prominent moments of this was during incentive training sessions, or IT. Incentive training is one of the tools drill instructors use to instill discipline and correct deficiencies among recruits. Recruits are given a series of physical exercises they must conduct during a timed period, such as planks, jumping jacks, and crunches. When the entire platoon gets IT’d, it’s a group effort – if one recruit doesn’t hold a position long enough, or get up from the ground quick enough, they must all start over. They will either succeed or fail together. Eggleston explained that over time, he began to see the platoon come together as a team during those incentive training sessions. They would yell out encouragements to one another while dripping sweat, putting aside the physical pain for the sake of those to the left and right of them.
This teamwork continued to grow and carried them through the crucible, the 54-hour culmination event that mentally and physically pushes recruits to the edge. During the crucible, the recruits were given exercises and tasks that can only be completed through group effort, not individual. This further solidified Eggleston’s platoon as a team, and upon successful completion of this event, he and his fellow recruits earned the title of Marine in October 2023.
Eggleston, born and raised in Tennessee, graduated Coffee County Central High School in May 2023. During his junior year of high school, a Marine Corps recruiter was present at a football game and shook Eggleston’s hand. Eggleston was taken aback due to the genuine interest the recruiter showed in him, as opposed to trying to “sell” him something. Eggleston was drawn to the camaraderie and brotherhood the Marine Corps offered him, and desired to be part of something bigger than himself. So the next year, Eggleston joined the Delayed Entry Program at Recruiting Substation (RSS) Manchester, Recruiting Station Nashville, to eagerly await his time to ship out to recruit training.
Eggleston attributed his enthusiasm for the Marine Corps in aiding him in the command recruiting (CDR) program he served under at RSS Murfreesboro for three weeks. This program provides new Marines the opportunity to return to their home state and aid in recruiting efforts. It serves as a “buffer” between recruit training and the next stage of their career. An added benefit is that it allows Marines to spend extra time with family and friends.
As part of CDR, Eggleston, along with the recruiters, speak with and prospect potential enlisted candidates for the Marine Corps. They share all the opportunities the service has to offer, and Eggleston serves as fresh-faced proof of the transformation from civilian to Marine. He even had the chance to stop by his old high school, walking down the halls in his uniform, shoulders back in pride. Students and teachers alike came up to him to congratulate him, and ask all about his recruit training experience.
Eggleston now understands why recruit training was conducted the way it was. The brotherhood he was seeking appeared in training over time and by overcoming obstacles and challenges as a team. A group of individuals from all backgrounds and walks of life had come together, and despite their differences, united together in the same purpose. Eggleston now shares a bond with all those who have “U.S. Marines” written on their uniform.
Eggleston is slated to attend Infantry Training Battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, in November 2023.