Every enlisted member of the world’s finest fighting force begins their transformation on the same iconic yellow footprints.  Not everyone standing here will earn the title of U.S. Marine.  To do so they must pass through the most demanding recruit training in the world…not everyone is cut out for it.

Over the next 12 weeks they will be tested more than they could have ever imagined physically, mentally and emotionally.  The training is intense and uncompromising, but they will find parts of themselves they never knew were there.  They will be broken down and rebuilt from the ground up as a disciplined, motivated and dedicated warrior for their nation…they will be United States Marines.

Before they stepped on to this bus, the lives led by these young men and women from different backgrounds may have had little in common.  They are now leaving those lives behind for a common goal – to earn the title of United States Marine.  It starts when a Drill Instructor steps on to the bus to welcome them to Parris Island.  They soon realize that their lives are about to change… forever.


This is their first phone call home.  By now the reality of being away sinks in and 3 months may seem like a lifetime at this moment. The initial phone call lasts only a few seconds and they follow a script verbatim.  If parents don’t know what to expect it can be a little scary.  Typically recruiters prepare the families of what to expect from this call, which may come in the middle of the night.

Initial Strength Test


Before training can start, each male recruit must be able to do a minimum of 2 pull-ups and female recruits must be able to do a flexed arm hang for 12 seconds.  Both are required to do 44 crunches in 2 minutes and run 1.5 miles in under 13 minutes and 30 seconds for the men and the females have 15 minutes to cross the finish line.  Recruits are advised report to training with the ability to run much further distances at a faster pace, as the IST run is only half the distance of the 3-mile Physical Fitness Test required of all recruits.  Failure here means you are sent to a physical conditioning platoon for an additional 7 to 14 days of training.  The last thing these recruits want to think about is extending their time on Parris Island so they have to push themselves to make it.


After passing their initial strength test, Marine Corps recruit training begins with a moment these recruits will never forget.  Its time to meet their drill instructors.

They are the backbone of the Marine Corps, demanding perfectionists who monopolize every waking hour of the recruit’s lives.  Every second of every day will be spent with these drill instructors who will mould them into Marines.  They will instill in them, through their own example, the utmost levels of professionalism, teamwork, discipline and confidence.  They really do make Marines.

Meeting Drill Instructors