Sunday, January 24, 2010

Semper Fidelis

Tuesday January 19:
Who knew when I agreed to go on the Marine Corps Educators Workshops that I would have so much fun. I could not have anticipated the trip with a crystal ball if I had tried. From the moment I was picked up on Tuesday, at 2:50am might I add, it was an adventure. We arrived at the recruiting sub-station in Frederick, and waited for the last member of our local group. We then proceed down to the Marriott in Dulles where we linked up with the rest of our RSS Frederick group. They provided breakfast, coffee and juice...and best of all eye candy. From this point on we were part of a group that was destined to learn about the ins and outs of the Corps. So we got our tickets and our rides to the actual aiport... and we were off and running. Funny thing is, it was about this time when I realized we were headed to Parris Island, South Carolina!! Up, Up and away.....
So we boarded our plane to Savannah, and it was smooth sailing! Wait....that almost makes it seem like Dulles was an easy airport... BAH! Ok so we had a few minor hiccups, oh like when we had to pay for 35-40 peoples bags with one man's government credit card. Talk about a difficult task. Needless to say we all got our bags taken care of and the flight was easy breezy. We arrived in Savannah/Hilton Head and went to lunch at Ruby Tuesday's. Now you are thinking here are two busses worth of educators that don't really know each other or know what to expect from this experience, arriving in an unknown city, well is this going to work? Well the logistics ran so smoothly it was remarkable. We ate at Ruby's, bused to Beaufort, S.C. and checked in with ease. I was fortunate enough to wait until the last minute to check in and I fanagled a room to myself. WOOHOO!  After that nights dinner, and the intro movie to our next few days, I was finally able to shower and relax. Wait did I really just say relax??? Ok I showered and went back downstairs to meet those going out for a drink.
So there I am.... no poo... waiting for others to arrive, and they do...but they are all Marines, male Marines. So I am the only female educator heading out to the bar with 5 male Marines. And thus began the next four days of the Marine Corps Educators Workshop.

Wednesday, January 20:
So I arrive back to my hotel at what seemed like a decent hour....but that didn't mean we were done. Another 12 pack between 2 people, and a botched attempt at Copenhagen, I arrive in my sometime around 2:00am?? I think... that wasn't the worst part. The worst part was waking up at 6:10am and thinking "Crap, I slept through the 5:45 alarm!!!" Nevermind the fact that I had to be downstairs by 6:30am. I made it, albeit not incredibly sober, but it wasn't required. I did have my required gear, and I was on time.  As I boarded the bus, I was so friggin excited because today was the day we would get to fire the M16A2s. WOOHOO!!! So...we were briefed about the Corps, and the benefits and educational opportunities offered to the recruits, as well as the training and expectations of all Marines. This concept of family was beginning to unfold. After our brief we proceeded to the famous or infamous YELLOW FOOTPRINTS! We even got to go fall into a formation on the yellow footsteps!
I can only imagine how the young recruits feel arriving there at Parris Island. What a thrill of excitement, fear and the unknown! The rest of the briefing went in a blur, partly because I was taking in all the different surroundings and sights a new recruit would be....and the other part was because my head was still foggy from the rewards of the previous evening. (Which for the purposes of keeping my blog healthy and sanitary...I will refrain from disclosing.) We proceeded to the indoor training range for the M16A2. After a quick brief, we were able to handle the air pressured gun and learn the "two to the chest, one to the head" manuever. I did awesome! If I might brag about myself. The first time I scored 115, and the second and third time (yes, I fired it more than once) I scored 120. So I felt like a pro! Gimme the real thing...and they did! After an intense safety briefing, we walked out to the live fire range. One magazine later, 30 rounds, I was loving the M16! It couldn't get better!(but it does!)
After the training, we had the honor of eating lunch with a recruit! By favor that was one of the most memorable experiences. She was young 19 year old girl, who was in college and wanted something more fulfilling, and so she became a Marine. How different than what we are used to hearing...about the teen with no direction in life. I know the recruits to happy to have some adult conversation, because she thanked us for being there and talking to her because since we were from the MD/VA area she felt less homesick. I choked down those Mommy tears and told her that we were proud of her and that she could do it!
The afternoon went well and we proceeded to a brief and dinner at the Officers Club on the Marine Corps Air Station. The best part of this evening..... chucking empty bottles at a wall of terrorists!!! Totally unexpected and way too much friggin fun!
The night should have ended there, but that would have been too silly. So I showered, got ready and headed back out to Rosie's for what should have been Karaoke, but turned into my first meeting with Patron. Well the rest of the evening will be summarized as "holy shit". Home bound by 2:30 or so.....

Thursday, January 21
So I missed formation this morning. What exactly is that? Well the DI tells you to be somewhere at a certain time, and you are a no show. So I over slept....but that wasn't the worst part. I was called, cell-phoned, had someone at the door...and still didn't budge. Genos, God love him, stood knocking on the door until I managed to get myself up. So I got up, showered, and managed to get downstairs.....not entirely coherent.
But it was pouring and I could tell today was gonna be tough. The long and short of it was today included martial arts combat training, The Crucible, and other things.....all in the POURING down rain! What fun! Did I mention we were wet??? It was all in good fun!
That evening we all got showered and warm and headed to Dock Side restaurant for a wonderful seafood dinner. Of course after dinner, it was finally the Office. Not to mention $2 for 24oz Margaritas. It was an awesome time and I know for sure I arrived sometime after 3:30am. The days were long and nights longer! But it was an unforgettable time......

Friday January 21
Time to go home...but not before some tear jerking ceremonies. From the flag raising to the band playing, it was an emotional morning. We also had the privilege of seeing the graduation ceremony and that was equally emotional. It was amazing to see what a healthy dose of discipline can do for individuals. I was amazed and awed! I have never experienced something so powerful as this graduation. The honor grads were amazing and the best part was watching them run towards family members and all the hugs and kisses! I wanted to cry like a baby! But that went well....but now it was time for one of our last formations, and then off to the airport. Our time at Parris Island had come and gone and I was sad that it didn't last longer.

In closing, I was amazed at the discipline, work ethic, and most of all sense of family that all Marines seem to share, and not just in the recruit ranks but throughout all Marines. It was the most interesting professional development I have been to yet!

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