MCRD PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. -- The recruits of Hotel Company, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion are Marines today, but before they earned that title, they had to face and conquer several challenges put in their way — one of which was the nerve-racking Final Drill.
While untrained spectators might see it as just marching, Marines call it drill, and it holds a special place in every Marine’s left breast pocket. The recruits drill from the day their feet touch the yellow footprints to the day they graduate. Final Drill was the zenith of what they had learned from day one as they moved about Peatross Parade Deck, or the “grinder,” with precision and uniformity, March 30.
“This is the culmination of everything we have learned so far,” said Rct. Cody Payne, guide for Platoon 2029, Hotel Company, 2nd RTBn. “The attention to detail, the precision - I like everything about drill.”
Drill is designed to teach the recruits to work as a team and move as a cohesive unit, much as they would in a combat situation.
“All the hard work we’ve put into it shows,” Payne said. “We’ve worked from day one together and we feel confident about [Final Drill].”
The recruits took to the grinder one platoon at a time, where they executed the senior drill instructor’s commands as flawlessly and precisely as humanly possible under the close scrutiny and scoring of the watchful drill masters. They were now living out what they had fantasized after the very first time they saw a Silent Drill Platoon commercial on television.
For some of the recruits, Final Drill is the first gate toward the end of their stay at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island.
“It’s a bittersweet feeling knowing that this is the last time we will all drill together,” said Rct. Kyle Hunter, squad leader of Platoon 2029. “Through everything we’ve been through, the good and the bad, we’ve adapted to it together as brothers.”
The most important thing the recruits gain from drill is discipline. Whether it’s gripping their issued M16-A4 so hard their knuckles turn purple or standing at the position of attention motionless while sand fleas dig into any exposed flesh, the recruits have something they didn’t before—discipline.
Even though only one platoon could win Final Drill, every recruit that glided across the parade deck came out the other side a little more ready to bear the title of Marine.
“I’m excited and anxious to be a Marine soon, but it also makes me sad to know that we’re graduating next week,” Hunter said. “But everyone here will always be my brother.”
Today marks the day that these newly christened brothers-in-arms will go their separate ways, but that doesn’t mean the end of their journey together. For as they learned to work as a team and move as one through the precise and exact demands of drill, they are now a part of an even bigger team—the U.S Marine Corps.