SAN DIEGO, Calif. – The last full day of the Marine Corps educational workshop saw the educators take a trip to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton for some hands-on weapons training and even an opportunity to fire the M16A4 service rifle.
The day began with an early wakeup as the group of educators attending the workshop, including six teachers from South Kitsap High School, made their way onto the buses at 5:45 in the morning.
Once they had arrived at a firing range, the teachers from South Kitsap High were offered another brief on the process of training a recruit in the safe use of an M16. Recruits, the educators learned, spend three weeks at Edson Range, learning the ins and outs of their weapon. After that, they move onto Crucible Week, the hellacious 54-hour endurance event in which the recruits eat and sleep minimally while completing a series of tasks and finally tackling the 10-mile hike known as “The Reaper.”
The educators were given just a taste of one test. The South Kitsap High School crew was tasked with passing an empty 55-gallon drum over an elevated barrier which represented a broken bridge. The only tools available were two long, steel poles and a piece of rope.
Sgt. Maj. Wesley Turner noted that the teachers had a significant advantage over the recruits who work to overcome the obstacles presented at the 12 Stalls.
“By the time the recruits get here, they’re dog tired,” Turner said. “Logical explanations aren’t easy for them.”
While the task was never something that the teachers managed to complete, it was not for a lack of effort. While holding the drum as his other team members climbed up the bridge, online credit recovery teacher Chris Korbel lost his balance and fell from the perch. The 55-gallon drum he was resting on his lap beat him to the ground. Korbel’s face hit the drum as he fell, splitting open his chin. Despite a steady trickle of blood from beneath his beard, Korbel was in good spirits, smiling and joking with the Navy corpsman treating his wound.
The corpsman determined that Korbel would need stitches.
“I didn’t realize I was bleeding until I touched it,” Korbel said. “I was just more disappointed that I just killed our group.”
Korbel’s comment elicited a rather notable response from Ssgt. Jason Howton.
“Chris, you’re a rockstar. You should’ve been a Marine,” Howton said through a full-faced smile.
With Korbel carted off to receive a dab of glue (in lieu of sutures) the rest of the teachers moved on from the 12 Stalls and to their next stop, the Warrior’s Breakfast.
The Warriors Breakfast is the first real meal that recruits get to enjoy after completing The Reaper. It is following the completion of this task that they are first handed the characteristic eagle, globe and anchor pin of the Marine Corps. The educators were offered the opportunity to eat with these new marines on their first meal after their grueling march.
Despite their fatigue, the Marines were in good spirits and joked with the workshop’s participants between mouthfuls of breakfast.
Following a safety briefing, the group was permitted to get behind an M16 and pop off a few shots at the 200-yard shooting line. When all the brass had hit the cement and the range had cooled, the group of educators from the Seattle area proved to be the more accurate shooters. Seattle scored a cumulative 253 points out of 300, six points higher than their counterparts from the San Francisco area. The Seattle group cheered raucously as the results were read by a range officer, relishing in their win. Seattle’s enthusiasm was likely the direct result of a fierce ongoing competition between the two groups, cultivated and encouraged almost entirely by the drill instructors who serve as the group guides.
-Nick Twietmeyer is a reporter with Kitsap News Group. Nick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org