Surviving Marine Corps Bootcamp: The Few, the Proud and You?

Marine recruits team up to carry a telephone pole

Photo credit: Task & Purpose

Have you or a loved one ever thought about joining the U.S. Marine Corps?

If you have — or even if the idea has never crossed your mind — the amazing documentary, Earning the Title, is must-see viewing for a behind-the-scenes look at Marine bootcamp and the ordeal that molds raw recruits into warriors worthy of wearing the coveted eagle, globe and anchor.

Standing in the Yellow Footprints

As Earning the Title opens, we’re right there on the bus full of nervous new recruits as it pulls into the Parris Island Recruit Depot and grinds to a sudden halt.

A drill instructor boards, paces menacingly up and down the aisle and welcomes his newest charges by screaming, “The words ‘I,’ ‘me,’ or ‘my’ will no longer appear in your vocabulary!”

Welcome to Marine Corps boot camp. Welcome to the legendary yellow footprints. Welcome to hell.

The yellow footprints new recruits stand on at Parris Island Marine bootcamp

USMC photo by Sergeant Jennifer Schubert

From Knife Fighting to Chemical Warfare 

Those who survive the next 13 weeks — and about a third of every class won’t — will learn to march in formation, defend themselves with knives, martial arts and weapons-at-hand, swim fully-clothed in deep water, survive chemical agents, confidently throw hand grenades and pass a rigorous two-week rifle qualification course.

Along the way, they will also learn teamwork, tenacity, self-confidence and courage.

Marine Corps drill sergeant with new recruits

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Surviving the Crucible

Finally, the recruits must endure “The Crucible,” a grueling 54-hour gut check designed to deprive them of sleep and food, while testing every bit of skill and stamina they have been taught.

I defy anyone to find any scene in any movie that’s more emotional than Earning the Title’s scenes at graduation. Or as one fearsome drill instructor puts it to a newly minted Marine, “Son, it’s okay to cry.”

Watch Earning the Title in its entirety here: