MCRD PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. --
U.S. Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island S.C. -- Training for America’s next battles will always involve risk. Creating an environment that simulates the many elements of warfare is an ever-changing obstacle, but the Marine Corps has always adapted to these obstacles. For Romeo Company, every recruit has their own opportunity to overcome.
Romeo Company, formerly known as Special Training Company, is a rehabilitation, recovery, and reconditioning company with the mission of getting recruits back to the fight. In March 2022, Romeo Company moved into its brand-new home, with the mission of giving recruits the opportunity to return to training stronger and better.
The foundation of Romeo Company’s accomplishments is not just a building, but the staff made up of approximately 30 Marines, Sailors, and civilians. The company commander of Romeo Company is U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Michael C. Howard, who has been with Romeo Company for the past year.
“Any recruit who is unable to continue training due to injuries or medical complications are entrusted to us to ensure they receive proper care for their injury,” said Howard. “Additionally, we facilitate the training for recruits who have not yet passed the physical requirements such as the Physical Fitness Test and the Combat Fitness Test. Per our regimented 21-day fitness program, recruits are given special instruction and guidance on improving their overall scores and are educated on nutrition, recovery, body mechanics, muscle growth, and proper technique execution.”
Howard said it’s been a night and day difference since he first arrived at Romeo Company. In September 2021, the Company was composed of approximately 500 recruits and roughly 100 basically trained Marines in the Basic Marine Platoon. Today, Romeo Company has approximately 200-265 recruits and 25-35 BMP Marines. This significant reduction is credited to the staff at Romeo Company.
“Due to a collection of factors, Romeo Company was very restricted in its efforts and had very little established procedures to oversee its recruit progress,” said Howard. “With the incredible dedication of the staff, we were able to adjust, correct, and revise virtually all our internal tactics, techniques, and procedures.”
Drill instructor Sgt. Cyndell Deocampo with Romeo Company has seen two sides of the rehabilitation company as a recruit and drill instructor. She said when she was a recruit STC was completely different than the current Romeo Company.
“Back then I didn’t even know the drill instructors' names, they were not involved as much as they are now,” said Deocampo. “Here you have to be the senior drill instructor, you have to be the experienced drill instructor, you have to be the knowledge drill instructor. You have to be everything.”
The new state-of-the-art facility is made up of four squad bays, eight staff offices, a computer lab, a private Chaplain space, a conference room, five athletic training coordinator offices, and a fitness center. The fitness center, known as the recruit rehabilitation center, is outfitted with treadmills, ellipticals, resistance bikes, a free weight station, a HITT area, Alter-G running stations, Stairmaster station, evaluation tables, rowers, and immersion tanks.
“Romeo Company has a year-round constant recruit presence. Every recruit has their own individual challenges they need to overcome that the staff must continuously track to ensure timely recovery,” said Howard.
“We maintain a constantly evolving schedule that we call the battle rhythm,” said Howard. “This weekly schedule is the driving force behind the Company and ensures that in addition to physical training and rehabilitation, recruits receive other means of training. This includes daily classes on Marine Corps knowledge and history, military behavior and operations, ATC led periods of instruction, and many others.”
Most recruits only spend 13 weeks on Parris Island, but for Romeo Company recruits, the time they spend on the island can be exponentially increased. Howard said it's their responsibility to keep recruits motivated and in the right frame of mind, which is to recover and get back to training.
Rct. Deandre Waites suffered a leg injury during training and has been recovering over the last couple of months. Waites said, “This place will be the reason I am the best version of myself. I have learned more here than I ever did in the training company.”
“Romeo Company will continue to accomplish its mission by getting recruits and Marines back to the fight because of the continual effort of the staff. All recruits who go through Romeo Company will leave better off than when they arrived,” said Howard.
“As stated in the Drill Instructor Creed, ‘these recruits are entrusted to my care’,” said Howard. “From the moment they step foot on those yellow footprints we are responsible for each and every man and woman who stepped forward to take on the challenge of becoming a Marine. To separate every recruit who sustained an injury or simply couldn’t pass a fitness test, is doing the Marine Corps and the nation a disservice. Recruits injured in training deserve proper care and treatment. It is our responsibility that they receive it.”