Fit to Fight

Three days before graduation, recruits don their Service “A” uniforms and stand tall in a battalion commander’s inspection.

“This inspection is the final graduation requirement,” said 1st Sgt. Anthony A. Spadaro, Company C’s first sergeant. “This is a chance for recruits to show off in front of their battalion commander.”
Company C lined up in its entirety Tuesday morning for the battalion commander’s inspection. In this inspection, the company is inspected by staff noncommissioned officers and commissioned officers from Recruit Training Regiment. Photo by: Cpl. Jess Levens

Company C lined up in its entirety Tuesday morning for the battalion commander’s inspection. In this inspection, the company is inspected by staff noncommissioned officers and commissioned officers from Recruit Training Regiment.

The soon-to-be Marines spend hours in the preceding days making sure their uniforms are ship-shape and good-to-go. The drill instructors help too.

“One purpose of this final inspection is to make sure that the recruits’ uniforms fit,” said Spadaro. “Also, this gives the battalion commander a chance to see if his recruits have the confidence and bearing to be Marines. They are in his charge after all.

According to Spadaro, most recruits pass this inspection with no problems.

“These lads know how to stand an inspection by now,” he said. “They’ve been through a senior drill instructor’s inspection, a series commander’s inspection and a company commander’s inspection.”

This inspection is quite longer than the others, and the time spent standing can make this a grueling experience for recruits. A few recruits buckle under heat or lock their knees, causing them to faint, but drill instructors are on standby to aid these recruits. There are also benches and jugs of cold water behind the big, green formation.

“This happens to Marines too,” said Spadaro. “This inspection also helps these recruits prepare for any long formations once they are in the fleet.”

A senior drill instructor inspects a recruit’s rifle for cleanliness. The recruits use cotton swabs, lubricant and cool water to clean their weapons.

Inside the formation, recruits pop to attention and present their rifles when an inspecting officer steps in front of them. Each recruit greets the inspector by sounding off his name, rank, hometown and occupational specialty, along with active duty or reserve status. The inspector then quizzes the recruit with a series of basic Marine Corps knowledge while measuring certain lengths on the uniform and inspecting the recruit’s overall appearance.

Spadaro explained why recruits wear the Service “A” uniform for this inspection: “They wear their main service uniform,” said Spadaro. “It’s their highest inspection, so they wear their most formal, issued uniform.”

According to Spadaro, the battalion commander’s inspection is a final culmination of what the recruits have learned throughout the training cycle, and it is a time for them to present themselves to their commander as a Marine.

Fighting to belong

America has traditionally been known around the world as the land of opportunity because of the many immigrants who come to the United States aspiring to a better life.

Some of them join the Armed Forces, which can also accelerate the process of gaining their citizenship and earning the right to stay.

Erbol Bekmuratov, a recruit with Platoon 2012, Fox Company, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, and an immigrant from Almaty, Kazakhstan, said he joined the Marine Corps for several reasons.

“I chose the Marines because when I moved here, I heard they were the best this country had, and I wanted to belong to it,” Bekmuratov said.

“I joined because I wanted to earn my citizenship quickly and get money for school once I get out,” Bekmuratov added.

Bekmuratov moved from his country to Philadelphia when he was 16, after his father received a job in the city. Once Bekmuratov was old enough to join the Corps, he spoke with a recruiter.

While citizenship can be a motivating factor to the decision to join the military, other reasons exist as well.

Andres Morales, a recruit with Plt. 2012, Fox Co., 2nd RTBn., said that gaining his citizenship while in the service is only an added bonus.

“I joined because I had several family members who are in the military back home, and I want to continue that tradition,” said Morales, of Bogota, Colombia.

Morales said that he chose the Marine Corps because of its reputation as an elite force and hopes to become a proficient Marine in the future.

Gunnery Sgt. Rafael Jimenez, the Recruit Training Regiment equal opportunity representative, said those who serve honorably deserve the best gift the country can give, which is to grant them their citizenship.

Although foreign recruits grew up in different places than others in their platoons, Jimenez said cultural differences do not tend to interfere with the routine of training. In fact, immigrants’ unique backgrounds often help their success through the rigors of Parris Island.

Some of the foreign recruits come from second- and third-world countries. Jimenez said their experiences in such places often compels them to appreciate the value of training more than many of their fellow recruits who are not trying to earn citizenship.

Morales said he hopes to finish recruit training and become a productive Marine.

“I am proud of what I am doing here and I want to earn my place in the Marine Corps and in this country,” Morales said.