MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT, San Diego --
A recruit may never realize the amount of miles they’ve put on their feet or how far they’ve traveled in order to earn the title of United States Marine. Through every step, they become stronger, each learning about their body’s limits.
Recruits of Company E, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion completed a sustainment hike May 12 aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego in preparation for the Crucible, a 54-hour field-training exercise.
“The hike is important because it gets the recruits ready for the Crucible,” said Sgt. Robert Jimenez, drill instructor, Platoon 2114, Co. E, 2nd RTBn. “We’ve been building them up since their first three-mile hike in Phase One.”
The sustainment hike is an estimated six-mile hike around the depot. The last hike the recruits completed was an eight-mile hike at Edson Range, Weapons and Field Training Battalion, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.
“The hike won’t hurt us in preparing for the Crucible,” said Recruit Tanner Metro, Plt. 2114, Co. E, 2nd RTBn. “We don’t know what to expect over those two days, so any extra training will help.”
Recruits are required to wear their Kevlar helmet, sling their M16-A4 service rifle and carry a 40-pound rucksack. The hike is used as a tool to allow recruits to see where they stand when enduring the extra weight and the distance traveled, explained Jimenez.
A recruit’s body can rely solely on his feet. Feet are the foundation to the body and if not properly taken care of, a simple injury could lead to something more serious.
Recruits prepare for the hike by maintaining healthy eating habits, constant hydration, seeking medical attention prior, and learning how to properly pack their rucksack. Items in each pack include Meals, Ready to Eat, skivvy rolls, utility uniforms, an e-tool, poncho and poncho liner.
Proper packing is essential for comfort. A load can shift, throwing a recruit off-balance, or put uneven strain on their back, shoulders and legs.
“The recruits learn how to evenly distribute the weight in their pack,” said Jimenez. “They are taught this because it will prevent back injuries when carrying heavy equipment for long distances.”
As the sun begins to slowly rise in the sky, the recruits hydrate, stretch and make sure their gear is set. The drill instructors also use this time to go over knowledge and practical application with the recruits. It helps them with “finals week”, the week before the Crucible where recruits complete their final exams, explained Jimenez.
At 7:30 AM, the recruits covered down on their neatly-aligned packs. They are ordered to put their packs, Kevlar and rifles on. Each platoon splits into two columns as they begin the first stretch of the hike.
Drill instructors motivate the recruits by encouraging them to finish strong and complete the hike. The recruits trek on through the morning, responding to the ditties that are called out and pushing each other to keep up with the recruit in front of them.
“We’ve come this far,” said Metro, an 18-year-old Glenndale, Ariz. native. “This is just one step closer to graduating.”
The last hike at recruit training is the dreaded Reaper Hike, a 10-mile hike in the hills at Edson Range on the last day of the Crucible. In the early hours of the morning, once the hike is completed, the recruits of Co. E will earn their Eagle, Globe and Anchor and the title of United States Marine.