The words rang out loud and clear in the early morning hours of February 21. It was dark with a light rain falling and a slight sense of apprehension for Edgar Moser, a teacher at Salem High School, wondering what he had got himself into. For Moser, who has been an educator for over 30 years, the words could have come from him in his many years of teaching and coaching, but this time the words were directed at him. He had just pulled up in front of the first building that Marine Recruits enter as they arrive at Parris Island Marine Depot in South Carolina.
He was being told to “Get Off The Bus!” by a young drill instructor who would soon have the “new” recruits doing many of the things young men and women do as they arrive at their new home for 13 weeks. It was going to prove to be an exciting week! “One of the first things we did,” Moser said, “was to stand on the golden footprints, a place reserved for those young recruits who desire to be part of the few, the proud, the Marines.”
Moser was attending an Educator’s Workshop that is open to both high school teachers and counselors, but also open to principals and school administrators, with the purpose of helping them see exactly what a high-schooler will do if they choose to enter the Marine Corps. It is designed to give educators a taste of what recruits will be doing if they choose to be a Marine.
Activities for the week that Moser participated in included rappelling off a 50 ft. wall; shooting a M16-A4 rifle; experiencing a gas chamber; running an obstacle course; and actually sitting down and talking with recruits who were presently going through the 13 week “boot camp” training.
“Speaking to recruits as we ate chow with them gave us an opportunity as teachers to truly see how these young men and women view the Corps and how they see themselves as being an important part of something much bigger than themselves. They are going through an intense and sometimes grueling training, but you can see the discipline, confidence, and pride forming.”
Besides the activities, (including physical training in a sand pit), Moser was also privileged to see part of the final phase of training for a young Marine recruit which is called The Crucible. “I was so impressed at the discipline and training the recruits receive and had a sense of pride with them as we were able to see the recruits that were completing their intense training.”
The final phase of training for a Marine recruit involves a 54-hour finale complete with a 9-mile hike and many team-building skills and activities. “As educators, we were also able to see and be a part of graduation day as the recruits marched in front of many proud family members on the Friday morning before we had to leave,” Moser added. “You could sense the feeling of accomplishment and pride for these young people and somehow, all the hard work now seemed worth it.”
Moser closed with these thoughts: “Although the week was tough, I am so glad I was given the opportunity by the administrators in the Salem City School system for me to go and experience this great opportunity. While not near as intense, I am sure, I still felt like my hard work was rewarded and I came back sensing some of the pride and confidence the Marines instill in the young men and women who decide to be a part of an elite fighting force in our military services of today.” And as the Marines would say, “Semper fi.”
-Submitted by Edgar Moser