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Training and Education Command

United States Marine Corps
Recruits learn teamwork is the only way over an obstacle

By Cpl. Robert Beaver | August 06, 2008

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Recruit Christopher M. Duncan, Platoon 3209, balances himself as he walks down a log obstacle.

Recruit Christopher M. Duncan, Platoon 3209, balances himself as he walks down a log obstacle. (Photo by Cpl. Robert W. Beaver/Chevron)


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Recruit Stephen A. Hilburn, Platoon 3209, provides security for his teammates.::r::::n::

Recruit Stephen A. Hilburn, Platoon 3209, provides security for his teammates.::r::::n:: (Photo by Cpl. Robert W. Beaver/Chevron)


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Recruit Aaron W. Greene, Platoon 3209, helps a teammate over a double high bar obstacle.  From the moment recruits begin their training at boot camp, they are taught that teamwork is very important to mission accomplishment.

Recruit Aaron W. Greene, Platoon 3209, helps a teammate over a double high bar obstacle. From the moment recruits begin their training at boot camp, they are taught that teamwork is very important to mission accomplishment. (Photo by Cpl. Robert W. Beaver/Chevron)


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Company I recruits rush out of a mock light armored vehicle to start the course. Their drill instructors challenged both squads to race to the other side of the course.

Company I recruits rush out of a mock light armored vehicle to start the course. Their drill instructors challenged both squads to race to the other side of the course. (Photo by Cpl. Robert W. Beaver/Chevron)


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Company I recruits help Recruit Christopher M. Duncan, Platoon 3209, over the first high bar obstacle of the Fire Team Assault Course.

Company I recruits help Recruit Christopher M. Duncan, Platoon 3209, over the first high bar obstacle of the Fire Team Assault Course. (Photo by Cpl. Robert W. Beaver/Chevron)


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MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO -- Forty hours into the Crucible, recruits with Platoon 3209, Company I began feeling the effects of food and sleep deprivation. Their feet had already developed blisters from hiking several miles in combat gear across demanding terrain during the second day of the Crucible Aug. 6.

As they continued down one trail, they were faced by the Edson Range, Camp Pendleton Calif. Fire Team Assault Course and their drill instructors ordering them to assault through.

They could not do it alone. Their fatigue  forced them to rely on each other in order to accomplish their mission and completing the fourth and final version of the obstacle course.

“Building teamwork is the goal of this obstacle,” said Staff Sgt. Ramon Mason, drill instructor, Platoon 3209. “In previous obstacle courses, they went alone. This gets them out of an individual mindset and into a team.”

Before tackling all Crucible obstacles, recruits read aloud an award citation—this time about a young Marine who fought in Iraq. They reflect on the core values of honor, courage and commitment with their drill instructors.

“The citations motivate me and keep me going,” said Recruit Adrian Brown, Platoon 3209. “It’s great to know that a lot of these heroes were Marines at the lowest ranks, like us.”

The recruits were then divided into two squads and grouped into four-man teams known as fire teams. Before rushing out from a light armored vehicle their drill instructors challenged the squads to race one another.

Once they reached the first barrier, the recruits were required to roll over several high bars, then scale walls, and negotiate log obstacles and provide their own security to complete the course. Recruits were also responsible for carrying two ammunition cans filled with dirt to simulate the weight of a loaded can.

The course was marked with red areas to simulate kill zones. If a recruit or the ammunition can were to touch the area, the recruit would be considered dead and the gear would be abandoned.

“At the beginning of the Crucible, we weren’t working as a team,” said Brown, a 19-year-old native of Ft. Hood, Texas. “Our strategies weren’t working then, but at this point we knew what we had to do. We couldn’t complete this obstacle without each other because it’s hard for some recruits to lift their own body weight, and the added gear makes it even harder.”

Some recruits were too short or tired to climb the obstacles. With the help of their teammates, every one made it over. In the end, 2nd squad finished before 1st squad to win the race. 

“Teamwork is important to accomplish anything in life,” said Brown, who was in 2nd squad. “It is especially important for us because we’re in the military.”



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