A Look Back at Pick-up Day

“Get on line!” This was the first command the recruits of Platoon 2121, Company F, received from their drill instructors on Oct. 20, the day known as “pickup.”

The command to get on line tells recruits to go to their respective bunk beds, more commonly known as racks, and stand at the position of attention, until further orders are given by their drill instructors.

Before the recruits got to the foot of their racks, however, their drill instructors began running throughout the squad bay barking out more orders for the recruits to follow. This was the recruits’ introduction to rendering instant obedience to orders, something that has been drilled into them by their drill instructors over the past three months.

With every loud yell from the drill instructors, Pvt. Ezra Condon, from Cherry Creek, S.C., said he felt chilling sensations throughout his body and the hairs on the back of his neck stood up. It was too soon for him to realize the purpose behind the drill.

“I had no idea what to expect when I saw my drill instructors for the first time,” said Condon, an aviation maintenance technician. “Then they came out of the duty hut and slammed the door. I was terrified when I saw them. I lost all sense of reality and I tried to move my fastest and stay out of the drill instructors’ way.”

This type of a stressful environment is designed to help recruits think faster on their feet. They learn there are consequences for their actions and it makes them feel more responsible to make the right decisions in a timely manner, said Sgt. William Davis, Platoon 2121.

Pickup marks the first day of training. It is the drill instructor’s job to teach the recruits as much information as possible during that day.

“The faster they learn to be recruits the easier it is for them to make the transformation into Marines,” said Davis, a native of Pleasantview, Utah. “I expect them to constantly strive to do their best and set realistic goals they can accomplish.”

Condon, who was named the most improved recruit in his platoon, had a late start getting used to the recruit lifestyle. He said there were times in boot camp when he wanted to quit but his drill instructors motivated him to continue his training.

“I feel like I owe my drill instructors a lot,” said Condon, who has wanted to be a Marine since he was 7 years old. “If it wasn’t for them I couldn’t be living my dream as a Marine.”

Condon said he has come a long way since he first met his drill instructors and has learned a lot about working as a team.

“I feel like I can do anything now,” said Condon.

Senior drill instructor Staff Sgt. Eakathat Khanthasa, from Peoria, Ill., said Condon is a prime example of the change from civilian to Marine that takes place within each individual recruit during boot camp.

He said the stressful environment recruits experience from day one instills confidence in them and prepares them for future challenges in the Marine Corps far beyond their graduation today.

Led by a Receiving Company drill instructor, recruits march to meet their regular drill instructors for the first time.