Iwakuni Marines reflect on transition from drill field to fleet

AFN Iwakuni
Story by Cpl. Justin Glandon-Hall

Date: 12.21.2015
Posted: 12.31.2015 01:48
News ID: 185519

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan - Most Marines remember the three months spent in recruit training. For many, drill instructors are the reason it's so memorable. As if they were cartoon characters, drill instructors would scream in weird voices with veins popping out of their necks.

While recruit training is a huge transition from civilian to Marine, drill instructors must also transition from their time at the recruit depot or drill field to the fleet Marine force.

A drill instructor at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., Gunnery Sgt. Erick Richburg said he had to remember how to talk to Marines when he returned to the fleet.

“There is a certain atmosphere [at recruit training] that has no place in the fleet,” said Richburg. “I had to take a step back and think about my actions to become approachable to my Marines.”

During his three-year tour as a drill instructor, Richburg looked up to Gunnery Sgt. Nicholas Stewart, another drill instructor from MCRD Parris Island.

“I had to get accustomed to mentoring young Marines,” said Stewart. “It was a challenge at first. I’m used to screaming to get results.”

One of Stewart’s most memorable moments coming back to the fleet has him chuckling today.

“I saw my company first sergeant correcting a Marine. The first thing that popped into my head was ‘this is a recruit and I need to destroy him,” said Stewart, “I jumped in there and I kept screaming at this young Marine ‘Recruit! Recruit! Recruit!’ I couldn’t figure out why everyone was laughing. They were like, ‘Gunnery sergeant, that’s not a recruit.”

Even though transitioning from the fleet isn’t easy both Richburg and Stewart agree that being a drill instructor has helped them become better leaders.

“The way I carry myself, my work ethic and my confidence have changed,” said Richburg. “It has improved me as a Marine and has followed me into the fleet.”