Poolees Experience Life in the Marines

Sgt. Jason Abel, recruiter, walks between the two squads of poolees and gives final instructions prior to the five-mile infantry patrol.

“If it ain’t rainin’, we ain’t trainin'” – a motto many Marines live by when “toughing” out training in less than ideal weather conditions.

For poolees of Recruiting Substation Clarksville, In., working in less than ideal weather conditions meant spending two-days conducting field-training operations in the cold, rainy and muddy grounds of central Kentucky March 9-10 during a monthly pool function.

“If your poolees show up to something like this, they’re less likely to back out when it comes time to go to boot camp,” said Sgt. James Morgan, noncommissioned officer in charge of RSS Clarksville.

qualities during recruit training, such as self-discipline, honor, courage and commitment.

“I’ll expect that I’ll feel like I really belong to something, and I’ve never felt like that before,” said Gross.

Teamwork is perhaps the most single important value recruits learn at recruit training. Without it, recruits could not complete the Crucible – the defining moment during boot camp that requires them to complete obstacles and solve problems as a team in a 54-hour period without the benefits of adequate sleep and food.

“That’s what we want them to know before they get to boot camp – how to work as a team,” said Araballo.

The intent of the two-day evolution, which involved a wide variety of field-survival classes, operations and physical fitness training, was merely to give the future Marines of RSS Clarksville a taste of life “in the field,” similar to what they’ll undergo during their 13 weeks of training at Marine Corps Recruit Training Depot Parris Island, S.C.

From classes on applying camouflage face paint to properly building a fighting position and conducting infantry patrols, poolees were taught the in’s and out’s of what to expect during recruit training.

As for the weather, that just made it all the more challenging, according to Hanover, In., native Scott Gross, who shipped for recruit training at the end of last month.

“When I first heard about it [field meet], I was like, ‘Oh man, I really don’t feel like going out in the cold.’ But once I started doing it, it wasn’t to bad at all,” said Gross, who’ll train in Explosive Ordinance Disposal following graduation from recruit training.

Morgan and his three canvassing recruiters chose to conduct mostly infantry-style training during the field meet not only to relate to what the poolees would learn as recruits at Parris Island, but also to present a bit of a mental and physical challenge as well.

“A lot of times they’ve [poolees] been sheltered, and we’re out here to show them what being a Marine really is,” said Sgt. Lorenzo Araballo, a recruiter who’s an infantryman in the fleet.

Following a full day and night of patrols, digging fighting trenches and conducting classes, the poolees woke up bright and early to conduct a physical fitness test.

The day ended with an “egg” war where poolees were broken up into two squads – one defensive, one offensive – and unleashed upon one another utilizing the training they received.

The winning squad of the weekend’s events had the choice of either being treated to a restaurant of their choice by the Marines or scheduling another trip to the field.

The decision was unanimous: back to the field.

While such training may not sound very appealing to some people, for 18-year-old Cliff Anderson, his experience with RSS Clarksville was the icing on the cake on his decision to enlist.

“This stuff just makes you stronger,” said Anderson, who enlisted less than two weeks following the event.

“Once you get that intensity inside of you, you’re up for anything, and you just want to do it and keep going,” added Gross.