Saturday, March 5, 2011


Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XS, Canon 50mm 1.8 II, ISO 200, f/8, 1/160 sec
  Graduation Day is the happiest day in the life of a Marine recruit.  The day each one of them says, "I made it!"
  December 10th my son Shea and 440+ other young men arrived at Parris Island, SC knowing that the next 13 weeks would be the toughest of their lives. The minute they arrived there was someone yelling at them and putting them through physical and mental strain that only someone who went through Marine basic training could even come close to understanding.
  In addition to the yelling, they are taught rifle marksmanship, team building, hand-to-hand combat techniques, Marine history, and core values.  All of this culminating a week before graduation with The Crucible.
  If you have never heard of The Crucible, which I had not, it is a true test of the Marine recruits' metal. At roughly 2:00am Thursday morning they jump out of bed and get into full gear that includes a 50lb pack and their back and set out on a series of tests that will last 54 hours until Saturday morning with very little sleep or food.  There are 6 tests that they go through that everything they have learned and dealt with over the previous 12 weeks will apply to. The final test being the 10 mile hike back to the parade deck on Saturday morning.  By this time, each of them is running on fumes and pure motivation is all that is pushing them through.  Shea told me the last 2 miles of which was the first time they sang cadences on a hike (this was very surprising to me after watching the Motivational Run on Family Day when the entire company was singing in unison).

Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XS, Canon 100-400 f/4 L IS lens @ 350mm, ISO 1600, f/5.6, 1/200 sec.
  When they arrive from the hike at the parade deck they form up in front of the Iwo Jima Memorial and receive their Eagle Globe and Anchor and are referred to as Marines for the very first time. Shea said every new Marine cried when they received this honor. I would expect so.
  A week after the Crucible, with their families watching, the Graduation Ceremony takes place on that very same parade deck.  Honors are handed out. The Marine Maritime Band Plays the National Anthem and the Marine Hymn. Tributes to past Marines are held.  And then all of the Senior Drill Instructors give the last and most anticipated command to their new Marines, "Dismissed". 
  Graduation day for the family and friends is a great spectacle with all of the company dressed to the nines and marching through the parade deck with the band playing.
  For the new Marine, however, the real Graduation Day was the previous Saturday morning.

Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XS, Canon 100-400 f/4L IS lens @ 400mm, ISO 200, f/5.6, 1/160 sec.

Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XS, Canon 100-400 f/4L IS lens @ 400mm, ISO 200, f/5.6, 1/125 sec.


  1. Every reason to be proud Jerry. May God bless him and keep him and his fellow graduates safe.

  2. Thank you so much Mark. We are extremely proud.

  3. Amazing Jerry, so well written and documented with your photography. I felt like I was there with you all. Really enjoyed this, congratulations to everyone!