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Marine Corps Boot Camp: The Crucible

Marine Corps Boot Camp: The Crucible

January 9th, 2010

The Crucible… the final test in Marine Corps recruit training that pushes you physically, mentally and emotionally beyond the limits of what the average human being can endure. The Crucible is designed to break, torture, try and teach. Eight events, several stations, 2 degree temperatures, frozen mud and 55 miles of hiking, obstacle courses and team building missions. Sleep deprivation, food deprivation… that was the easy part.

Marines On Crucible Hike

Marines On Crucible Hike

We kicked off the Crucible at 2:30 a.m. with an easy 6-mile tactical hike in the darkness of the night. Twenty degree weather can really crumble your morale. The cold cut through you like a knife and there was nothing you could do to stay warm. My fingers felt like they were being sliced off with a cheese grater, or being blended in a bucket of glass. I’ve never been in the cold so long that it hurt. Frostbite was bound to hit.

Marine Corps Pugil Stick Training

Marine Corps Pugil Stick Training

Once we arrived at Paige Field (an old abandoned air field), we split into our smaller squads. The squads consisted of 13 people, and would be the small group that you would intimately endure the Crucible with. Our first event was pugil sticks and boxing. I guess this was our warm-up event. From there we headed to a series of team-building combat-related obstacles that were designed to test our intelligence, speed, teamwork and ability to lead. We had to move casualties through tunnels, over bridges and over walls. This all had to be done without the casualty touching the ground. The casualty was life-size and life-weight. If the casualty was dropped, you failed. No starting over here, just the punishment of failure and mile-long buddy carries to the next event.

Marine Crucible Combat Course

Marine Crucible Combat Course

Next came the combat endurance course; the hardest thing we had done up to this point in all of our training. It’s a 2.5 mile course of low crawling, sprinting, pushing, pulling, moving and climbing. This event included “casualties” that had to be evacuated via fireman’s carry and body dragging. It makes for a long 2.5 miles, especially when you have to start the course over three times due to fat people who can’t keep up with the squad. A night run through the woods was our first night event. I was thinking “o, yeah… this is smart. Let’s get 200 tired, hungry recruits, stick them in the pitch dark… in the woods… and make them run for 5 miles.” Yeah, right.

My worst fear happened.

My Ankle One Week After The Crucible

My Ankle One Week After The Crucible

About 100 yards into the woods my ankle cracked in three places and I rolled into a patch of bushes. It was so dark that nobody even noticed that I tumbled my way off course into a ditch. I thought for sure my ankle was broken. I can’t explain the sickness that set in thinking that I might get dropped for a medical reason. Regardless I jumped up and fought through to catch up with my platoon and finish the hike. After the hike, I revealed my softball size, solid black ankle to the drill instructor. My ankle was black from the toes all the way up to my shin bone. It was the worst foot injury I have ever had. I showed a drill instructor and when he saw it his exact words were “son, your foot is broken. I’m taking you to medical right now.” I don’t think so. It was the first and only time that I looked a drill instructor in the face and said “no.” It was said in no disrespect, but there was no way that I was quitting now. Not this close to the finish line. If I had to low crawl the next 50 miles… I was finishing the Crucible. My mind was made up and after a few movement exercises, the Drill Instructors let me pass on going to medical at my own risk.

The Crucible

The Crucible

The next day of the Crucible was another full day of combat situations, hiking, pain, sand, ammo cans, and cold. That pretty much sums it up. I knew that after the second day I only had one final obstacle in my way of becoming a Marine… the 10-mile hike back to main side. The hike would have been easy without the 80 pound pack and a sprained ankle. I guess easy is boring. I prayed and thought about my pregnant wife the entire hike. I kept her in my mind each step I took. She was at the finish line in my mind. Nothing was going to stop me. It helped block the pain out. In reality, I didn’t want my family to have to reschedule their hotel and travel plans for me being dropped.

I finished the hike.

My Eagle, Globe, & Anchor From Boot Camp

My Eagle, Globe, & Anchor From Boot Camp

When we returned from the hike, we formed up around the Iwo Jima monument for our Eagle, Globe, and Anchor ceremony. This is typically an emotional event in a new Marine’s life, but honestly, it was too cold for most of us to care. When you’re standing at parade rest in 10 degree weather, all you can think about is your frozen hands. After we got our EGAs, we couldn’t even feel them in our hands.

My grandfather, that was also a Marine, passed away the same day that I became a Marine. He graduated the same exact day as me, 50 years prior. January 15th, 1960.



USMC Official Photos By: Lance Cpl. Sarah A. Fiocco & Lance Cpl. Isaac Lamberth

About Kevin Webb

I am passionate about life and the idea of the American dream – that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are the essence of the American idea. I have a passion for presenting conservative analysis and exposing any agenda that threatens the Constitutional ideology of the United States of America (sarcasm sometimes included). I am a United States Marine, a husband, a father, a son, a brother, and most importantly, a God-fearing Christian. I love basketball, camping, fitness, family, working in the community, and I confess to being a responsible Bible-toting, gun-clinging American patriot.


  1. This is one of the most Motivating things I’ve read! Thanks for taking the time to write all of this.

  2. You’re welcome. I’m glad that you have enjoyed reading it.

  3. Good narrative, way to go “hard charger.” My demeanor is probably a lot more clear to you now that you have joined the ranks of the “few.” Don’t worry you may not have felt that “sense of pride” when you got the EGA, but as the years go on, trust me, the experience will definitely grow on you. Stay Up, Marine!!!

  4. Good work on this man. It really inspires me. Im swearing in to the Marines here in a couple days and Im so ready, even though it probly wont be until april when i leave. I want to be a marine more than anything. I mean yea Im kinda worried because I have some minor knee problems but I aint lettin that hold me back from gettin the EGA

  5. Just graduated PI… The Crucible was the hardest 2 days of my life. Doesn’t sound too different from what you went through in terms of order of events and the freaking cold temperatures… Didn’t break my ankle but I got lucky and spent the whole time with the DI of our platoon who absolutely hated me. One of the heavier guys in our squad kept getting mysteriously shot by a sniper and of course Marines never leave casualties behind, so guess who kept getting the duty of getting him out? Made the Day Movement Course especially fun! Low crawling with him on my back has got to be my favorite, haha.

    I wanted to quit so badly; I won’t lie. But by the time we were at the Warrior’s Breakfast and finally out the cold, enjoying as much chow as we wanted with the DIs sitting there with us, chatting and actually treating us like human beings, that’s when it began to hit us and since then I can say that the misery was completely worth it. “Only the hottest of fires can forge the purest of steels.”

  6. Sounds like we had similar roles during the crucible. I was the squad leader, so I had to carry all of our casualties. It sucked.

    I will never forget the warriors breakfast. You’re still not sure how to act around the DI’s but it ends up being a great day. And I’m sure you all spent the afternoon in the bathrooms that day after taking control of the chow hall’s all-you-can-eat buffet.

    LCpl Webb

  7. Thanks for serving and thanks for your story. Great job pushing through and sacrificing your comfort for the sake of our country!! My son will be graduating from boot camp next week, so it was nice to read what he is going through right now. Looking forward to seeing him and congratulating him.

  8. My 19 yr old son is on day 2 of his Crucible, expected graduation date 12/16/11. I’m sick with worry for him but I’m praying like crazy he gets through this next final test, the biggest of them all! Thank you for explaining your experience & for your service. Good bless you & your family & all our Marines & Soldiers serving our Country. Oorah! Semper Fidelis!

  9. I enlisted in june 64 .I think the crusable is a great test of. A recruits commitment. But overall I think bootcamp has been watered down.when I got to mcrd it was as if I had passed into another world and when I graduated I was reborn.semper fi.

  10. everyone in all the branches are great thank you and if you were k.i.a. r.i.p. thank you everone who served

  11. My son is going through the crucible right now. Reading this makes my stomach turn but at the same time I pray and hope he has your same tenacity and will. Very proud of our Marines as well as all military branches . Thank you for sharing. God Bless.

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