SAN DIEGO, Calif. — Even as the United States draws down its troops in Afghanistan, Marines continue to deploy worldwide.
Approximately 17,000 Marines will graduate from boot camp in San Diego this year, a proud tradition for the fighting force. It's grueling training for the young recruits, including some from the Wasatch Front.
Most people have a Hollywood image of boot camp, but this is the real thing. The drill instructors push the recruits to their limits, yelling at them all the way. But the time-tested trial prevails in the making of a Marine.
"Once they become a Marine they're going to be a Marine for the rest of their life," said drill instructor Sgt. Paul Espindola.
For the next few days, KSL will share more stories about what goes on at Boot Camp, and introduce you to some Salt Lake Marines who are nearly ready to earn that title.
Over three months, the recruits' drill instructors aim to make them warriors who win our nation's battles and become better citizens. It all starts when they get off the bus at the Recruit Depot.
"This is an historical event for them. They will remember this for the rest of their life," Espindola said.
The drill instructors strike fear into the recruits to let them know they mean business. They need the young men to forget about their previous lives for now and focus on becoming Marines.
Dalton Peterson, a 19-year-old Marine recruit from Ogden, described it as pure confusion.
"You don't know what's going to happen next," he said, and explained that it's a lot like the battlefield, intentionally.
Peterson is about one month away from Boot Camp graduation.
"At that point, they're trying to take everything you knew away. They're trying to strip you down to something they can work with. You can't paint with a canvas that already has paint on it," he said.