Warrior Day at the MCLB is not taken lightly as marines get the chance to put their skills to a test in a 28-mile obstacle course. The purpose of Warrior Day is to sharpen their skills in a hands-on activity.
The day starts with a 3 mile walk in groups of four. All marines are on alert at all times in case any superiors acting as enemies ambush them with paintballs acting as real bullets. Once they reach station marines divide into teams. One group has to disassemble and re-assemble guns, while the other group acts as surveillance and defense to protect the rest of the group. 1st Sergeant Javier Duarte says although the exercises are all things that have to be done while deployed. "We don't put them through random drills just for the fun of it. Everything has a purpose because it's something marines ran into overseas. We're trying to prepare them now so they can handle it in Iraq or Afghanistan."
Marines who participated in the event say it was a great exercise. "I think it's really motivating. It's good to get back to what marines are doing and not just sitting in the office doing regular paperwork every day" says Corporal Dominique Dean.
After the first course was complete, marines were given compasses to navigate to the next station. Sgt Duarte says the reason they had to navigate was because in many areas of the world GPS navigation devices don't work. In addition to the obstacles designed by marine leaders there were also natural dangers on the course as one group ran into a large snake in the woods.
Mental toughness also comes into play during Warrior Day.
Station two is an area where marines have to make a bridge over imaginary water. They're only allowed to use crates and planks around them to build a makeshift bridge and carry themselves and items across. 1st Sgt. Duarte says the station requires teamwork and is a relatively real life scenario. "In many areas of Afghanistan they don't have bridges. So marines have to construct one with the materials they find around them. Also if one person decides to goof off or go against the leader they would never get the mission assignment accomplished" says Duarte.
Station three is the KIMS game, or "keep in mind" game which is an exercise for intel. Marines are allowed 30 seconds to memorize ten items on a tarp, and after time is up the items are covered. After the brief period to memorize the items Marine leaders make them focus on something else highly technical as a distraction. Warrior Day participants have to disassemble a 9 millimeter berretta, perform a functions check, then hike a few miles to station four.
At station four marines have to tell the instructor what items they saw back in station three. This can be quite a task in itself and leaders say it's imperative their minds are sharp at all times. "You never know when overseas you're going to have to memorize certain items, or a code, or something like that because it could provide helpful information" says Duarte. Once marines recite all of the items that were at station three they have to figure out how to use the items to help at a first aid station.
The final mission in Warrior Day is station six which puts all of the marine's mental and physical skills to the test in one culminating exercise.
They start by debriefing a leader on everything they've experienced and seen so far, then the leader turns that information into an order for the last mission. Marines use paintball guns during the mission so they don't harm the environment and can safely fire their weapons without harming trees or wildlife. During the mission they use hand signals and silent orders to navigate the course. "They have to be quiet because in a real combat mission you wouldn't want to alert the enemy to your location. During station six they have to navigate through a canal, they get to a pause and get an objective to grab more ammo. Once they grab the ammo they're gonna get hit by other marines who are hidden in the wood line, which means they're in the trees. Their mission is to take out a marine. The marine gets injured, and once that marine gets injured they have to start doing everything they've learned in the course to navigate back safely and bring the marine back" says 1st Sgt. Javier Duarte.
Cpl. Dominique Dean says the exercise is very real world and necessary for marines on base. "If we've been in the office our whole time and we haven't been out in the field and actually use these techniques, then we'll be a lot weaker when we actually go to be deployed, but if we learn this now then we'll be a lot stronger when we go" says Dean.
Leaders say they want marines to take away the notion that they can accomplish anything when they work as a team. Warrior day is a egacy that gets passed on from leaders to marines, enhancing skill sets to make the corps stronger at home and abroad. And that's why they participate in Warrior Day.