Life as a Marine Corps Drill Instructor
When marine recruits are working toward becoming real marines they need instruction. That leadership comes from a drill instructor and the U.S. Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Parris Island South Carolina has hundreds of them.
Drill instructors put recruits through a lot of physical and mental tests during training. We asked Staff Sgt. Gerren Means why he became a drill instructor and he said he was inspired by his drill instructor when he was a recruit. "I wanted to give back to the Marine Corps what they gave meâ|Discipline. And that discipline came from my drill instructor. To this day I still revert back to things I saw my drill instructor do and that's been all the way through my Marine Corps career. I always fall back on what my drill instructor taught me" says Means.
Drill instructors yell a lot, however it all has a purpose. As the recruits progress through training the yelling turns into more instruction, however it never completely goes away! Staff Sgt. Deniece Newton says drill instructors yell instructions, yell for reinforcement, yell corrections, and continue yelling until they get their point across to recruits. She adds all the yelling can be a motivating factor for many recruits. "Believe it or not through mass punishment comes teamwork! So if one man makes that mistake and the group gets punished then the next time that that one thinks they're going to make the mistake they'll be somebody else peer pressuring them saying 'hey don't make that mistake because we're all going to get in trouble for it'" says Newton.
Since no recruit is perfect, anyone who expects to become a marine can also expect to get yelled at during boot camp. "They think we see everything, so they know that were going to hold them accountable every time - all the time" says Means.
People may assume drill instructors curse at recruits, when in fact Fox 31 never heard one curse word uttered to a recruit. Drill instructors say it's a common misperception that they curse out recruits when in fact they show each recruit the utmost respect by not cursing. Their job is to yell instructions, instill discipline, respect, honor, courage, and commitment while correcting any mistakes they may see. According to the Recruit Depot rules any drill instructor or recruit caught degrading any fellow marine or recruit can be disciplined. Some drill instructors joked that just because they don't curse doesn't mean they don't want to sometimes when a recruit repeatedly messes up the same thing after multiple corrections.
While talking to drill instructors, we learned that occasionally one will experience permanent vocal cord damage from yelling so much. What is more common that permanent vocal cord damage is a drill instructor losing his or her voice. Staff Sgt. Newton says most drill instructors continue to yell even if their voice is gone, and that when she experiences it â" she drinks tea with lemon and usually her voice will come back stronger within 30 minutes.