News: Recruits meet depot obstacle course
Story by Lance Cpl. Bridget Keane
SAN DIEGO - Some recruits enter Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego not knowing what challenges they will have to face, but their will to succeed rises above any other thought or emotion. Among those challenges are the obstacle courses that push recruits to their limits mentally and physically.
Company B, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, was introduced to the obstacle course June 15 aboard MCRD San Diego.
Every recruit must complete an obstacle course, known as the “O-course”, which is an event that requires recruits to climb over walls and logs, pull themselves over bars and use their last ounce of strength to climb a rope.
“This is an introduction to the different techniques that recruits can use to get over the obstacles,” explained Sgt. Matt Harmon, drill instructor, Platoon 1025, Co. B, 1st RTBn. “It’s important that the recruits learn these methods because you never know what you’ll run into during training exercises or combat.”
Although technique is the main focus of the course, building upper-body strength is also a crucial part of the event, explained Harmon.
“The course begins to build upper-body strength and confidence in the recruits,” said Harmon. “This is their first time through the course and most of them are looking forward to taking on the challenge.”
Before the course begins, a brief and demonstration is given to the recruits by their drill instructors on the different ways to complete the course. They are then given a rope climbing class that explains two different methods, wrap-around and “j-hook”, of climbing.
Drill instructors climb down from the rope and move on to demonstrate the last portion of the course: fireman’s carry and buddy drags. The recruits are shown how to properly execute the drag so they can learn how to evacuate causalities in a combat situation.
Recruits call cadence, clapping their hands together as they run in place at the beginning of the course. They watch as other recruits attempt to overcome the first obstacle and wait their turn for the challenge.
“The hardest part for recruits is usually climbing the ropes at the end,” said Harmon. “By that time, they’re tired and they really don’t think about technique.”
Recruits are only required to climb the rope half way and come back down. They are then ordered to perform the combat carries.
“I feel the hardest part for us is the drags and carries,” said Recruit Jared Allen, Plt. 1025, Co. B, 1st RTBn. “You get so down and out from the course and then have to perform, it gets difficult.”
Recruits learn how much their bodies can handle through this course. At the end, performing the carries and drags puts them in a combat mindset and forces them to push through to the end, explained Allen.
“You never know what to expect in combat,” said Allen, a 21-year-old Campbellsburg, IN native. “The course allows us to feel more capable in our abilities to overcome any obstacle physically and mentally.”
This won’t be the last time Co. B endures the “O-course” throughout training. They’ll run into two more times in their training cycle, the final time being part of the Crucible, a culminating event that tests recruits on all that they have learned, where they will be required to wear flak jackets, Kevlar helmets and carry their M16-A4 service rifle while attempting to overcome the obstacles.