Parris Island, the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, sits just outside Beaufort, South Carolina and is responsible for training, molding, and making more than 20,000 Marines each year. NBC29’s Marcella Robertson traveled to Parris Island to follow recruits from central Virginia on their journey to becoming a Marine.
"You're getting these kids from all over the world, from different types of societies, different family values. You're taking them and trying to make them as a team, take that individualism away from them,” said Sgt. Brian DaRosa.
From the time the Marine hopefuls step off the bus onto the yellow footprints for their first formation, to graduation, there's a lot of yelling. Drill Instructor (DI) Sgt. DaRosa breaks down the method behind the in-your-face intensity.
"We want to break that fear of combat, that chaos to them. We teach them the chaos from the get go and we don't stop because in combat it does not stop,” said DaRosa.
Charlottesville recruit Justin Bryant gets to experience that chaos alongside his brother.
“It's been great because we both rely on each other to push each other to our limits through PT (physical training) obstacle courses, confidence course. We've passed everything together side by side so far,” said Bryant.
The DIs play a crucial role as leaders through all 12 demanding weeks of training, drilling in the Marine Corps core values of honor, courage, and commitment.
"This recruit really takes pride in his country and just wants to be a part of a brotherhood and just do great things,” said Bryant.
DaRosa says the first phase and first weeks on the depot are usually the most taxing.
"It's the eye opener for them it's the toughest phase that they're going to go through,” said DaRosa.
From making the bunks properly, to becoming a marksman, it's the DIs and other Marines that teach the recruits everything they know.
"All of the instructors around Parris Island give them a little piece of what they become afterwards,” said DaRosa.
All the way through the second phase where teamwork is the focus, to the third and final phase: a grueling 54-hour event known as “The Crucible”. It's more than two days of mental and physical team work exercises, and it's also a moment where the role of the DI changes.
"Third phase is more of that mentor. The discipline does not stop again, but it does taper off,” said DaRosa.
That change, from nose-to-nose to side-by-side, is major. It's all part of the goal of producing a team and a new batch of America’s heroes.