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Scarlett Lister
Ms. Elizabeth Caruso
UWRT 1103
1 March 2016
What do Marine Recruits Endure During Boot Camp?
Marine Corps Boot Camp is considered the hardest basic training of any military branch and has
been described by active duty and retired Marines as one of the most difficult times of their lives. This
high intensity Boot Camp training has two locations, one being in San Diego, California and the other

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being in Parris Island, South Carolina (Military.com). Since these two locations are on opposite sides of
the United States, the Mississippi River is used as a line to separate the east from the west. Marine

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which side of the Mississippi river they live on

recruits living on the east go to Parris Island for training while the western recruits complete their training
in San Diego (Military.com). This 13-week journey is composed of three phases that incorporate the
USMC Values as well as experiences that create indescribable bonds amongst recruits (Military.com).
Phase one consists of dehumanizing each recruit in order to break their physical and
psychological civilian habits (Marine Boot Camp HQ). I have witnessed the affects of this

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one of the most difficult times of their lives. (Military.com)

dehumanization in my brother Rhett when he returned home from Boot Camp. Rhett came back as a new
man in many wonderful ways, but he seemed almost robotic during his first few days settling back into
every day life. During his first few nights back home, he would wake up and patrol the hallways of our
home with his flashlight just as he did many times during Fire Watch Duty at Boot Camp. My father also
found him at the kitchen table eating an MRE at 4:30 a couple mornings. He sat with perfect posture and
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kept his eyes straight forward while eating his meal like he was required to do in Boot Camp. He was also
unable to avoid using Marine Corps terminology, which I found quite amusing. He would refer to his

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flashlight as a moon beam and his sneakers as go fasters. What the Marine Corps did to my brother as

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well as all of their recruits seems barbaric, but later I will touch base on why dehumanization is so crucial.

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What could also be considered as a part of the dehumanization process is the requirement that recruits use
Sir or Maam as their first and last words of every sentence as well as screaming every word they say.

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scream everything they say
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I was curious as to why recruits are required to use Sir and Maam so often, and why they have to
yell everything. I began brainstorming on my curiosities and concluded that this is done to remind these
young adults about respecting those of a higher rank while also teaching them to speak with confidence. I
was unable to find any evidence supporting my theory but seeing how respectful and confident all
Marines are, I believe my theory to be correct. Also during Phase One, recruits undergo vigorous physical

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training including martial arts, as well as attending classes that teach the Marine Corps history, how rank

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is structured on uniforms, and basic first aid (Marine Boot Camp HQ). So far this phase appeared to be
the most chaotic of them all. Before my research I thought that the last phase would be the craziest, but

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the evidence indicated otherwise. Are the Drill Instructors trying to shell-shock these recruits in order to
build them into the Marines they want them to be? Though the intentions are unknown, it is no doubt that
each recruit quickly learns how to do exactly what their drill instructors tell them to, without thinking

Deleted: Phase one is designed to be the most intense and


chaotic phase so recruits are often overwhelmed and unable
to think for themselves.
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twice. In exchange for their trust, recruits are "introduced to [their] best friend, [their] M16A2 service
rifle" (Marine Boot Camp HQ). Drill instructors refer to the service rifle as a best friend so each recruit

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will treat their weapon with the utmost respect and care. Although rifle possession is limited to Boot

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Camp, the M16A2 is the only item that recruits are allowed to have. I have put quotation marks around

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the word have to indicate that though each recruit is fully responsible for their rifle, they can not exercise

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control over what they do with it. Recruits must wait on orders from their Drill Instructor before they
move, aim, or fire their weapons. The only thing a recruit may do with their gun without permission is
cleaning it. The purpose of giving recruits this small freedom is in hopes that they will willingly choose to

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the entire 13 week duration.

keep their guns in its best condition. Proper gun care and maintenance are keys to success in combat. Not

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successfully

only are recruits required to be proficient with rifles in Phase One, they must also execute an obstacle

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course, pass the standard swimming qualifications, and pass the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program

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(Marine Boot Camp HQ). After completing the tests of Phase One, recruits receive a gas mask and
entrance into the gas chamber, where they are required to take their mask off at least three times (Marine
Boot Camp HQ). This may seem harsh, but Drill Instructors will not intentionally cause harm to their
recruits; the Marine Corps need bodies. Is removing gas masks inside the chamber strictly for physical

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harm
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enlisting they will not likely suffer any major health
conditions from the gas chamber

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strength, or are their psychological benefits to it as well? I believe that Drill Instructors force recruits to

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remove their masks in order to show them that their body is only as strong as their mind. This drill proves

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from continuing

to recruits that their body is capable of doing many things and will not stop until the mind tells it to.

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Through this exercise, Instructors are breaking off the rest of the civilian mentality by showing recruits
that with a cooperative mind, their bodies can be pushed to the brink of death without failure.
Phase Two has a strong emphasis on the proper use of a gun. Drill Instructors are more easygoing during this phase since live fire is being used and they want their marines in training to know how

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to properly fire their weapon (Marine Boot Camp HQ). If Drill Instructors were constantly yelling at the
recruits and punishing their mistakes with on-the-spot physical training, recruits would never learn how to
shoot a gun properly. Could this also be a reason why Phase One is so chaotic? Are Drill Instructors

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excessive from the start so their recruits will respect them and apply their teachings thorough out the rest
of their training? Learning how to use a gun is followed by learning how to survive in a combat zone and
having to deal with eating MRE's (Meals Ready to Eat) (Marine Boot Camp HQ). Combat zone survival

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from the start so their recruits will respect them and apply
... [1]
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includes field training and marches that are anywhere from 3 to 8 miles a day (Marine Boot Camp HQ).

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These future Marines march with extra weight on their backs due to having to carry their guns and ammo

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as well as extra safety gear. Marching up a hill for 5 miles with a heavy rucksack slowing them down may
not seem beneficial to them at the time, but it plays a part in the dehumanizing process and helps with
turning recruits into Marines. During these strenuous exercises, they are forced to embrace the suck and

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learn how to execute tasks they do not want to do. Although training with heavy packs and gear is
necessary, in the long run, it causes permeant wear and tear on the body. Veterans, including my father
often complain about knee problems from hiking on roads as well as back problems from having to carry

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heavy equipment in their rucksacks. Aside from the awful hiking and field training, phase two does
incorporate a bit of friendly competition. Platoon competitions take place and help the recruits realize

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how much physical progress they have made. Four weeks prior to this point recruits were getting

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screamed at for everything they did whether it was right or wrong, and until these competitions Im

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certain recruits were unaware that their Drill Instructors had an inside voice. These platoon competitions

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give the winners bragging rights as well as the pride showing their Drill Instructor what they have

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learned thus far at Boot Camp; it gives them a sense of worth. How does a winning platoon exercise their
bragging rights? I would like to believe that bragging rights are between Drill Instructors since recruits
may not speak unless they are spoken to. I visualize bragging rights as the winning platoons Drill
Instructor saying something smart to the other Drill Instructors when they march past them, or making the
losing platoon do on-the-spot exercises. Bragging rights or not, Im sure each recruit has a small chip on
their shoulder knowing that they are number one.
Phase Three is similar to Phase One, but now the recruits have higher standards to obtain. Instead
of learning how to be a Marine, they are tested on being a Marine. Recruits are completing their final

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physical fitness tests (PFT) and knowledge tests during this phase. (Marine Boot Camp HQ). They are

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also preparing for Final Drill which is the last platoon competition, but instead of winning bragging

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rights, the victors receive a trophy. A recruits last test is a 54-hour field test called The Crucible which
begins at 3 a.m. with a 6 mile road march into the field(The Marine Corps Crucible). During the Crucible,
recruits must learn how to survive on 2 MREs and eight hours of sleep for over two days (The Marine

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Corps Crucible). Since the Drill Instructors have been with the recruits every step of their journey, do

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how to function on 8 hours of sleep

they also have to survive on 2 MREs and eight hours of sleep or do they rotate in shifts with other
Instructors? The Crucible is more than just surviving. Each future Marine must learn how to lead a team

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and execute missions tactfully. Before the teams begin each event, the Drill Instructor picks a new recruit

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each time read the history of the Marine Corps Hero that the event is attributed to. (The Marine Corps
Crucible). I looked for more information on how these events got their names but I was unsuccessful in
my attempts. I wondered if the Marine that each event was named after had a relation to the event. Were

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Moved (insertion) [1]


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Moved up [1]: (The Marine Corps Crucible).

the USMC Heroes famous for completing these types of events proficiently in a real life setting, or are
they Heroes for reasons unrelated to the events? To better illustrate these events, an example provided by

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The Marine Corps Crucible described a station that is built around an enemy rope bridge where recruits

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are required to find a way to safely cross together with all of their gear and ammunition. Live fire and

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enemy capturing are used during these events to put the soon-to-be Marines into a real-life combat

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mindset. The last event is finished at 4:00 in the morning. Exhausted, parched, and starved recruits limp

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... [5]

along together, across DI Bridge, on to the Parade Deck where they all circle around a replica of the Iwo
Jima Memorial (The Marine Corps Crucible). This is when the Drill Instructors present their recruits with
a Marine Corps insignia, congratulate them, and refer to them as Marine instead of recruit for the very
first time (The Marine Corps Crucible). This is the moment when each recruits recognizes all of their hard
work and many shed a tear as they realize that they have completed the most difficult task of their life
thus far (The Marine Corps Crucible). Being a Marine comes with a new freedom called Liberty
Sunday. This is when Marines get a three hour period to do whatever they want. Marines can finally call
home for the first time in 13 weeks, go shopping and eat whatever they want (Nanny (Alice)). Most
Marines skip the phone line and go straight for the sweets. Although they are able to eat whatever they
want, their choices do not go unpunished. Not only do most Marines get very sick, but they have to suffer
through their Drill Instructors choice of physical training (PT) once Liberty Sunday is over. Rhett Lister
stated on a phone interview that he, ate an entire cheesecake to [himself]...and threw it all up after
[his} Drill Instructor PTd the [food] out of [his platoon]. After hearing what my brother had to say, I
wondered how many Marines dont pig out and maintain a healthy diet amongst all of Liberty Sundays
temptation.
Family Day is the day before Graduation and begins with a 4 mile platoon run titled the
Motivational Run (Marine.com). This is the last activity the Marines will ever do together and it is a
symbol of beginning their careers as Marines. This light-pace run marks the end of Boot Camps physical
activity and is an over-all enjoyed run since the new Marines have renewed their energies with thoughts
of seeing their family later on in the day. During family day, families are not only reunited with their
loved ones, but are able to finally meet their new Marine. Once united, Marines are allowed to escort their
visitors through their living quarters and introduce them to their Drill Instructors (Marine.com). How do
the parents feel when they get to meet the Drill Instructors that made a Marine out of their son or
daughter? I am sure little words are spoken but their gratitude is evident on their faces. After the Marines
say goodbye to their visitors, they head to their barracks and sleep in the barracks as a platoon for the last

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... [6]

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time. The following day is the when the new Marines have their graduation ceremony and are finally able
to go home. Platoons begin with a united march while the Marine Corps Band and Color Guard perform

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for the crowd (Marine.com). Each Drill Instructor gives their final command, and congratulates the new

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Marines as a whole which is returned with a big OORAH to symbolize the ceremonies

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Marines click their heels and watch how they all move as
one being (Marine.com). The

finale.(Marine.com).
After discovering all of this information, I still had unanswered questions. I wondered if it was
possible to fail Boot Camp and found that though the Marine Corps makes it very hard to fail, it is still
possible. If a recruit continually fails a physical fitness tests, they will be sent home (Gentile). Discharge
from Boot Camp can also be caused by serious medical injuries, or evidence of a serious mental

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condition. If a recruit fails to adapt to the Marine Corps moral principles or are relentlessly stubborn they

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could be sent to evaluation and ultimately sent home as well (Gentile). I was extremely interested to

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continue to fail then

uncover this information because it puts a huge emphasis on how the Marine Corps respects their values .

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If someone is unwilling to give up themselves then the Marine Corps will give up them. After finding that

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evaluated and if they are not salvageable, then they will ...
be[7]

a recruit can fail Boot Camp, I wondered if they could try Boot Camp again. In Yahoo Answers from a

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veteran, I learned that recruits are able to try again but must wait an allotted amount of time before

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reenlistment.
While learning about the ample amount of live fire used during phase two, I wanted to know if
deaths occur during Boot Camp and if so, how many. It was nearly impossible to find recruit death

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records, but I was able to find evidence of two deaths through legal cases. The first case was regarding a
recruit who had drowned during his swimming qualifications and the second was about a recruit who had
gotten bacterial meningitis; both were fatal (Hurley). The legality of recruit deaths is a gray area for the

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Marine Corps. A Drill Instructor was taken to the Marine Corps Court for the drowning incident and was
found not guilty due to the lack of evidence (King). Although the court failed to appoint a guilty party

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for the death of the young recruit, the Marine Corps did their best to prevent a reoccurrence of this

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tragedy by installing new cameras in the pool house and requiring an instructor-qualified officer to

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oversee pool safety and management during water training (King). I believe finding death records was so

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difficult, because the Marine Corps does not want an uproar from the public. Since the Marine Corps is
already considered the toughest military branch, they may be forced to decrease the difficulty of their
training if the public was aware of the deaths that occur.
The last question I had about Boot Camp was what the psychological effects were. Previously I

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their training and thus lose the pride they have in themselves.
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touched base on how crucial dehumanizing the recruits are and I read it is because Marines must be able
to train and trust 18 year old kids who have barely made it out of high school to run to the sound of

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gunfire and perform under immediate threats of death (Quora Contributor). With this point of view it can

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be considered crucial to dehumanize these recruits since they must be able to accept their death at any

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time. These young adults are required to take a bullet for every single one of their fellow Marines at any
time, in any place. Marines are trained to be completely self-less and to no longer think about themselves.
How many Marines get PTSD from Boot Camp alone, I wondered. One case was found of a man named

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Wesley Baxley who claims to have gotten PTSD from Boot Camp. This statement raised a lot of
controversy within the military community (Lilyea). Lilyea claims Baxley did no reserve time, and only

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served two years of active duty and is upset that he still qualifies for VA benefits because some Drill

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... [9]

Instructor yelled at him one time. Although clinically Baxley was diagnosed with PTSD, Lilyea claims

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that Baxley is using a service dog that could have been provided for a soldier who has been deployed and
has had more brutal experiences than Boot Camp. A commenter on Lilyeas article who goes by the
username Unt BA Psychology Major At Student stated that certain events may bring up past events,

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which is why we may not be able to handle them. I had not thought about this point of view prior to
reading this comment, but it does raise a very good point. What if during Boot Camp Baxley relived a
tragedy that was too much for him to bear? What if Baxley witnessed someone drown or watched one of

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... [10]
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... [11]
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... [12]
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his buddies get so sick from an infection that he died? It is too iffy to say that Baxley should or shouldnt
receive VA benefits from his Boot Camp experiences considering we do not know what he has been
through before the Marine Corps and during Boot Camp.
In conclusion, recruits experience multiple once and a lifetime events during Boot Camp. From
shooting big guns, possibly for the first time, to becoming a proficient swimmer, learning MMA, to

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constant physical conditioning, the intensity of Marine Corps Boot Camp will never be fully understood
until it is experienced. Through my research, I have learned things about the Marine Corps that I was

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how intense Marine Corps Boot Camp is until you have been
there
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previously unaware of and have a better understanding as to why Marines are considered the best
military branch our nation has to offer.

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Works Cited

Nanny (Alice). "THE CRUCIBLE AND LIBERTY SUNDAY." - MarineParents: Marine Family
Network (MFN). 4 Apr. 2012. Web. 21 Feb. 2016.
<http://marinefamilynetwork.com/group/pimn20120713/forum/topics/the-crucible-and-liberty-sunday>.
Contributor, Quora. "Why Are Military Boot Camps Are So Intense?" Web. 21 Feb. 2016.
<http://www.slate.com/blogs/quora/2013/03/05/why_is_boot_camp_so_intense.html>

Gentile, Marie. "How to Drop Out of Marine Boot Camp." How to Drop Out of Marine Boot
Camp. Web. 21 Feb. 2016. <http://work.chron.com/drop-out-marine-boot-camp-20234.html>.

Hurley, Clare. "World Socialist Web Site." Recruit's Death Highlights Brutality of Marine
Training -. 25 Feb. 2005. Web. 21 Feb. 2016. <https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2005/02/marif25.html>.

King, Tim. "Marine Corps Recruit Drownings Dying to Serve Your Country." - SalemNews.Com. 3 Feb. 2014. Web. 21 Feb. 2016.

Lilyea, Jonn. "Wesley Baxley; Boot Camp PTSD." This Aint Hell but You Can See It From Here.
21 Dec. 2013. Web. 21 Feb. 2016. <http://thisainthell.us/blog/?p=38961>.

Lister, Lawrence R. "Liberty Sunday." Telephone interview. 22 Feb. 2016

"Marine Boot Camp Schedule - Marines Boot Camp HQ." Marines Boot Camp HQ.
Web. 20 Feb. 2016. <http://www.marinesbootcamphq.com/recruit-training-schedule/marineboot-camp-schedule/>.

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"The Marine Corps Crucible." Military.com. Web. 20 Feb. 2016.


<http://www.military.com/join-armed-forces/marine-corps-crucible.html>.

"Marine Corps Boot Camp Timeline At a Glance." Military.com. Web. 20 Feb. 2016.
<http://www.military.com/join-armed-forces/marine-corps-boot-camp-schedule.html>.

"If You Are Dropped at Marine Bootcamp Can You Try Again?" Yahoo! Answers.
Yahoo! Web. 21 Feb. 2016.

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Lister, Scarlett

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It seems as if Drill Instructors have to be excessive from the start so their recruits will respect them and
apply their teachings throughout the gun phase and the rest of their training. Recruits also learn
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with their weapons and extra safety gear which adds weight to their backs
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Training with full combat gear on will prepare them for their deployments
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also holds platoon competitions where recruits desperately try to win each competition to avoid
unnecessary physical conditioning for punishment (Marine Boot Camp HQ).
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Lister, Scarlett

5/1/16 5:17:00 AM

Lister, Scarlett

5/1/16 5:17:00 AM

Lister, Scarlett

5/1/16 5:17:00 AM

Lister, Scarlett

5/1/16 5:17:00 AM

Lister, Scarlett

5/1/16 5:17:00 AM

Lister, Scarlett

5/1/16 5:17:00 AM

Lister, Scarlett

5/1/16 5:17:00 AM

Lister, Scarlett

5/1/16 5:17:00 AM

Lister, Scarlett

5/1/16 5:17:00 AM

Lister, Scarlett

5/1/16 5:17:00 AM

Lister, Scarlett

5/1/16 5:17:00 AM

Lister, Scarlett

5/1/16 5:33:00 AM

T
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will get recruits sent to a holding platoon to be evaluated and if they are not salvageable, then they will
be sent home as well (Gentile).

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Lister, Scarlett

5/1/16 5:34:00 AM

will be sent to the evaluation platoon as well and could be sent home
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Lister, Scarlett

5/1/16 5:44:00 AM

They are sculpted and trained into who their Drill Instructors want to be, and under previously stated
circumstances, it is for everyones safety. There is one
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Lister, Scarlett

5/1/16 5:48:00 AM

I believe the commenter brought up a very good point


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Lister, Scarlett

5/1/16 5:49:00 AM

Even tying in with the deaths that occur during Boot Camp, what if Baxley
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Lister, Scarlett

saw the recruit drown, or saw someone get shot during live fire?

5/1/16 5:50:00 AM