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'The Crucible' tests prospective Marines before graduation

Posted at 8:06 AM, Aug 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-04 09:06:19-04

About 70 percent of 17-to-24-year-olds in the U.S. are not qualified to join the armed forces for various reasons: medical, not being in shape, legal trouble or even academics.

COVID-19 has also made it tough on recruiters, with the pandemic taking away access to school campuses.

However, I’m told that Texas is actually the easiest place to pull people from — our state is represented every year in the Marines, but more Texans are still needed.

That's why educators' workshops like the one I'm part of this week are so important.

This week, the Marines are pulling the curtain back for 28 Texans – including KRIS 6 News photojournalist Alexis Montalbo and I – to get a look at exactly what they do here in San Diego.

Wednesday, we experienced basic rifle training, I didn't want to stop practicing.

Marine Educators Workshop helps branch with recruiting

But what some of the actual recruits were doing is much more meaningful.

'The Crucible' happens during Week 10 of the 13-week Marines training.

It's a 54-hour endurance event, and the only get five MREs -- small prepackaged meals – during that time.

They get no more than four hours of sleep a night, cover about 48 miles on foot, and go through a series of obstacles.

Local educators learn what it takes to be a Marine at workshop

Each recruit who finishes The Crucible earns their globe, eagle, and anchor -- which officially makes them a Marine.

"It's not easy, going through boot camp, but once you've gone through boot camp, it's a life changer,” said Marine Corps Recruit Depot docent and veteran Ray Lebron. “You know that your life's going to be different forever. Here I am at 75 years old, and I can still learn from the things that I learned in boot camp, and I can still apply them to my everyday life."

Lebron gets to speak with almost every new Marine who comes through here, such as Will Honeycutt from Corpus Christi.

His mother, Tara Renner, contacted me and sent me photos of him.

The 19-year-old finished high school just last year in Aransas Pass.