MARCH AIR RESERVE BASE, Calif. -- Soon-to-be Marine Corps recruits from four Southern California recruiting stations had the unique opportunity of hearing first hand from Marines at the tip of the spear here April 6, 2001.
The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit used a slight break in the action during its Training in an Urban Environment Exercise to spend time with about 40 people in the Marine Corps' delayed entry program.
Marines explained what their jobs entail and how they like it. Gear, weapons and even helicopters were displayed for the enlistees outside the hangar used as the command post during the exercise here.
"This is such a great chance for poolees (men and women in the delayed entry program) to hear about the Corps from Marines who are in the middle of what being a Marine is all about," said Sgt. Robert L. Swierbitewicz, a recruiter stationed in Corona. "It's really opening up their eyes."
Marines from the 15th MEU's Maritime Special Purpose Force, including a Force Reconnaissance Marine, a rifleman from its security platoon, snipers, communication specialists, pilots and helicopter crew chiefs were on hand for the event. After each presented a brief overview of their individual Military Occupational Specialty, they welcomed the enlistees to checkout the displays up-close and ask questions in a one-on-one setting.
Those in the delayed entry program usually get one chance for something like this before going to boot camp, Swierbitewicz said. "Not everyone even gets this opportunity. It really gives them a glimpse of the real Marine Corps before they get there themselves."
Marines told about the MEU's travels in the Western Pacific, the thrill of practicing for possible covert operations and the differences between what people see on television about the Marine Corps and how things really are. The audience, from San Berdino, Riverside, Moreno Valley and Indio, was very receptive of the information.
"I really got some great info that will help me with decisions I need to make before shipping off to boot camp," said Frank Hernandez, an 18-year-old senior from Santigo High School. "I leave for MCRD (Marine Corp Recruit Depot San Diego) in September and need to decide what I'm going to do in the Marines soon. I really liked the high-tech helicopters here. I've seen some videos my recruiter has, but those don't come close to this."
Others used the event to find out more about jobs they already decided they were interested in.
"I've known for a while that I wanted to be an infantryman," explained Alfredo Molina, a 17-year-old senior from La Sierra High School in Riverside. "I learned a lot today about the different routes in the infantry. Force Reconnaissance looks incredible. That is my goal now."
The Marines giving the presentations enjoyed the afternoon too.
"A lot of them were asking, 'Have you ever been shot at?'" laughed Lance Cpl. Christopher Angelone, a 23-year-old scout sniper from Philadelphia. "They got to see the kind of stuff today I joined for. I could tell it was really motivating for them. It was really fun talking with these guys about what to expect and stuff. Really, some of us were those kids just a few months ago."
For more news, photos and information on the 15th MEU visit http://www.usmc.mil/15meu