Forging a Marine

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Fifty-four hours. Forty-eight miles. Forty-five pounds of gear. Twenty-nine problem-solving exercises. Six to eight hours of sleep. Three MREs.

Add all of those things up, and the sum is The Crucible. It's the final step that recruits take to become United States Marines at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego. It culminates with a 10-mile march up a large, steep hill that has become known in Marine Corps lore as "The Reaper."

Around 4 a.m. Central Tuesday morning, my youngest son, Ryan, began that final step. Sometime around 10 a.m. Thursday, he should be standing atop The Reaper, receiving the Eagle, Globe and Anchor to symbolize the completion of his journey to become a U.S. Marine.

I've written about Ryan before, of course, and I hope you readers will indulge a proud father. I would also ask for your prayers and positive thoughts for Ryan as he undertakes probably the most challenging physical test of his life.

I have faith in my son, in his drill instructors and his new brothers. The Crucible tests recruits not only as individuals but also as a team; the problem-solving exercises require a coordinated effort and the recruits must work together to succeed.

My older son, Ronnie, completed The Crucible four years ago, in October 2011. There is no doubt that his choice to become a Marine had a great impact on Ryan and his own decision to follow in his brother's footsteps.

My young men are different in many ways, but in the most important ways they are very much alike. They are proud, strong and determined. I am blessed to be their father.

It was my honor and privilege to travel to San Diego four years ago to watch Ronnie graduate from basic training. Next week, I will make the trip again. This time it will be Ryan standing solemnly on that parade deck as he joins the finest fighting force ever assembled.

By the end of this week, my son will be a United States Marine, forged in The Crucible.

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Scott Loftis is managing editor for Carroll County Newspapers. His email address is CCNNews@cox-internet.com