The Marine Corps is known for winning battles and also making Marines. The crucible, is very much a part of that effort.
The Crucible reiterates and also emphasizes teamwork under stressful situations. There is 8 hours of sleep in a 54 hour mission. Recruits are also given 2 1/2 meals ready to eat (MREs) and they are responsible for the rationing of the food. Recruits will march 40 miles in 54 hours.
Recruits get tired and hungry, that is a part of the game. Recruits also realize that they have a reserve they never knew they had. Some recruits come from middle class families upper and even lower. When finishing this course its a major accomplishment no matter where you’re from.
Beginning at 3 am with a 6 mile road march from barracks to the Crucible site. Once here gear is placed in huts as preparation for the 1st four hours of events begin. At each station which are called “warrior stations” the teams of recruits must work together in order to solve and overcome. Each station is also named after a Marine hero who the recruits learned about during certain phases.
The recruits are forced to work together. Forced to be both leaders and followers, the team also learns as they go along. In the beginning they charge through without a plan and without asking if other team members want to add anything. By the middle of the Crucible, recruits are working better together, giving advice and solving problems.
The stations are very elaborate, one is built around an enemy mined rope bridge. The recruits must cross with gear and ammunition boxes. Tricky part is they only have so much gear in order to solve the problem. During another event recruits run into firing positions and engage pop up targets with 10 rounds in 2 magazines. There is also an event in which recruits battle with pugil sticks.
Food is grabbed when time permits. After the first two events there is a 5 mile night march. Most of the time this is done at a very fast pace, visibility is low and the obstacle is very grueling mentally. Afterwards recruits hit the racks for 4 hours of sleep.
Once this is done they begin the 2nd day of obstacles and get ready for a night infiltration course. From there another 4 hours of sleep, afterwards Marines will face a nine mile march to the end of the Crucible.
The march begins at 4 am and at first is done quietly. At this point the end is near… as the sun rises, the recruits cross D.I. Bridge. Once across the drill instructors begin to call cadences, they get louder and louder as recruits reach the parade deck.
There is more to being a Marine than knowing how to fire a weapon. There is a whole tradition behind it, recruits are pushed to measure up to the men and women who earned it before them.
A color guard raises the flag on the memorial. The chaplain reads a prayer specifically written for the finish of the Crucible. The drill instructors present each of their recruits with the Marine Corps insignia the eagle, glob and anchor.
Drill instructors shake hands, and call them Marines, for the first time. Many accept the honor with tears rolling down their faces.
I remember it like yesterday, and I’ll never forget it.
Isaac J. Hall II