MCRD San Diego

Welcome to your first weekly briefing, my name is Paul, a retired Sergeant Major in the United States Marine Corps. Over the next twelve weeks I’ll provide you with weekly updates on what your recruit is doing throughout their time at Marine Corps boot camp at MCRD San Diego. The road to graduation is long and hard, but if successful, your recruit will have the honor of earning the title United States Marine. Here’s a glimpse of what your recruit will endure over the next 12 weeks.

For the remainder of your recruit’s training you’ll receive weekly updates informing you on what your recruit is doing at boot camp. Your weekly updates will be available to you in the Sandboxx app. Be sure to turn your notifications on so you don’t miss them.

Receiving Week Intel

Your recruit arrived on base at San Diego late on Monday or Tuesday night (or in some cases on Wednesday), and immediately stepped into a high-pressure and stressful situation. They were ordered to step off of the bus and onto the infamous yellow footprints, and were told, “You are now aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, and you have just taken the first step toward becoming a member of the world’s finest fighting force, the United States Marine Corps” – as was every other recruit who landed at San Diego for the first time.

After entering through MCRD San Diego, your recruit went through in-processing, which consists of getting their first military haircut, uniform, and gear issue. They were also evaluated medically and given an Initial Strength Test (IST) to ensure that they were prepared and ready for training. Typically conducted on Friday mornings, this is the same IST that they were required to execute with their recruiter prior to arriving at San Diego.

Finally, your recruit met a team of three or four Drill Instructors (DI), who they will be with for the duration of their time at boot camp. Your recruit’s Drill Instructors are directly responsible for transforming them from a civilian into a United States Marine. These DIs will quickly become their best worst enemies, if they aren’t already (we’ll tell you why in future updates).

Training Week One Intel

To kick off week one of boot camp, your recruit will be introduced to the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, also referred to as MCMAP; more about this in week two’s update. Have we mentioned that you and your recruit will have a lot of acronyms to learn over the course of the next three months?

Next, your recruit will receive their M-16 service rifle that they will have for the remainder of training. This is a major responsibility, and one that they will need to take very seriously. They’ll also go through their first obstacle course.

After that is complete, your recruit will be introduced to combat fitness testing (CFT), which keeps them ready for the physical demands that their job will require of them during combat. This test will challenge your recruit by requiring them to sprint 880 yards for time, lift a 30 pound ammunition can overhead from shoulder height repeatedly for two minutes, and perform a maneuver-under-fire event, which is a timed 300 yard shuttle run during which the recruits perform a series of combat-related tasks, all while in battle dress uniform. Be sure to wish them luck in the Sandboxx letter 💌 you send them this week! They’ll also begin physical training.

Finally, your recruit will receive a lesson on the Marine Corps values: honor, courage, and commitment. These values are the guiding beliefs and principles that give Marines strength, influence their attitudes, and regulate their behavior. Your recruit will be required to demonstrate these values throughout boot camp in order to graduate.

The first few weeks are generally the toughest for recruits, both mentally and physically, and they’ll often feel like they can’t do anything right and may question whether or not they made the right decision.

This is where their support system of family and friends – including you – come into play. You have an incredibly important role in your recruit’s training. Letters from home can strengthen your recruit’s spirits and morale, helping them make it to graduation. If you’re not sure what to write at first, try asking them about the other recruits in their platoon, or how their meals taste. Consider adding The Dispatch: Weekly Newsletter to keep your recruit up to date with the outside world.

I’ll be back later this week with your first weekly briefing, which will clue you into some of the long-standing traditions of the Marine Corps. As one of America’s oldest organizations (it was actually founded before the United States declared its independence), you may not be surprised to learn that there are quite a few!  In the meantime, make sure to follow us on Facebook or Instagram for information about mailroom closures, giveaways, letter inspiration, and more.

Semper Fidelis,
Sgt. Maj. (ret.) Paul Davis