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4 Things You Learn After Living With A USMC Drill Instructor

Meet Shane McCarthy. Shane is the Chief Marketing Officer at Sandboxx, where he has been …

Don and Shane.png

Meet Shane McCarthy. Shane is the Chief Marketing Officer at Sandboxx, where he has been for the past four years. During his time at Sandboxx, Shane has learned all about the United States Military. Like any job, you learn more and more about the industry you’re in as time goes on. Shane however, was able to learn a lot about the military, specifically the United States Marine Corps, after living with a former Marine Corps Drill Instructor for a year. A unique living situation, Shane shares with us what he learned from living with Sergeant Miller.

A few years ago, when I returned to Virginia after a brief stint back in Ireland, I needed somewhere to live. As luck would have it, one of my colleagues at Sandboxx had an extra room near the office so I moved in. Although I would not recommend ever living with a colleague, Sandboxx only had a handful of employees at the time and we ended up spending most of our time together anyway. We were living the stereotypical start-up life, late nights in the office, doing things that don’t scale and spending almost every waking moment trying to make the product better.

Marine Corps Drill Instructor

My roommate was Don Miller. Don spent over a decade in the Marine Corps as an infantry Marine, deployed to Iraq & Afghanistan and spent some time as a Drill Instructor on Parris Island, SC. The iconic image of the Drill Instructor knife-handing the recruit above is in fact Don.

1. How to get DI Fit

It’s become common, within technology companies, to bring in yoga instructors or lead a meditation session during the lunch hour. Having a former Marine Corps Drill Instructor in the office, lead to some grueling team workouts, followed by a dreaded punishment for the losing teams.Fitness is a critical criterion for highly motivated service members, but drill instructors take this to a new level. Marine Corps Drill Instructors are required to maintain a high level of physical fitness, for good reason. They need to demonstrate to future Marines the level that is expected of them, as well as be able to participate in every and all events the entire 13 weeks of training.By using the drill instructor workout schedule, I was able to get into the best shape I’ve been in since high school – losing 40lbs and being the strongest that I ever have been. Though, the first month of two-a-days sucked!

2. How to Lead

I have been fortunate over the past four years to spend time with, and learn from, some incredible leaders – both within the military community and private sector. I’ve received a lot of advice from many, but the advice I received from Sgt. Miller, on leveraging the knowledge of all those working for you, stands out the most.

Drill Instructors have a very important job, to train and prepare all future Marines. For 13 weeks, drill instructors are looked up to and admired by their recruits. Leading recruits for 13 weeks is no easy task, all drill instructors must pass a rigorous 13-week course, and prove that they have what it takes, and more, to train and transform recruits into the world’s finest Marines.Sgt. Miller’s advice on leveraging the knowledge of those working for you came from his time in combat. Being able to share his leadership knowledge from his experience is what helps prepare recruits for the career that lies ahead of them.It may seem logical, but there are plenty of poor leaders who do not use the counsel of their teams when making decisions. It can be easy to blow this off and use the excuse of busyness or needing to make every decision quickly – but the advice was made more potent by the fact that it came from a drill instructor and warfighter.

3. How to Iron

I was ironing a shirt after working out a few years ago and a fellow gym member approached me and asked, “You have never served your country, have you?”. I was slightly puzzled until he explained that the military would have shown me a much more efficient way to iron my clothes.In the Marine Corps, presentation is everything, so I was able to pick up these tips to make sure I always looked my best for any situation.

  1. Starch is your friend. 
  2. Align seams properly.
  3. Ensure everything is centered.
  4. You can never have too much starch.

I opt to get my suits dry cleaned and pressed now, but like any squared-away Marine, I know all the tricks to get the perfect seams when the situation warrants it. I haven’t met the questioning gym member since, but I’m sure he would be surprised at the improvements in my wardrobe maintenance.

4. How to Shoot

You can’t live with a former Marine Infantryman without knowing how to protect yourself. Whether it’s a plan of attack if someone breaks into your home, to sitting faced towards the exits at a restaurant, these are all things that my former drill instructor roommate shared with me.Sgt. Miller was an expert shooter, who was able to assist me with the fundamentals of firing a weapon. The first and most important being the four rifle range safety rules that Marine Corps recruits are taught at boot camp:

  1. Treat every weapon as if it were loaded.
  2. Never point a weapon at anything you do not intend to shoot.
  3. Keep finger straight and off the trigger until you are ready to fire.
  4. Keep weapon on safe until you intend to fire.

It was great to receive proper training and improve on my skills, although my sister out-shot me during her first range visit (which I get constantly reminded of), I can still hold my own if I ever have to.

Drill Instructors Creed.png

It’s hard to fully appreciate the personal sacrifice that those who serve make. I was somewhat aware of the toll that being deployed can have on service members and their families, but had little insight into the lives that Drill Instructors live. It can be both physically and mentally exhausting (especially on their vocal cords) for months at a time. The passion that drives these men and women in their work to make Marines is like nothing else that I have ever seen, and when they recite the Drill Instructor’s Creed at the beginning of Marine Corps boot camp they mean every single word of it.These recruits are entrusted to my care.
I will train them to the best of my ability.
I will develop them into smartly disciplined, physically fit, basically trained Marines, thoroughly indoctrinated in love of Corps and country.

I will demand of them, and demonstrate by my own example, the highest standards of personal conduct, morality, and professional skill.

The editorial team at Sandboxx.