By Francis Scarcella
The Daily Item
PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. — It was 6:30 this morning when what looked like a perfectly friendly Marine climbed aboard the bus to suggest the day’s activities for educators and journalists participating in a four-day workshop.
We were wrong about Staff Sgt. Andrade.
“Get off my bus!” the drill instructor yelled. “Gather your stuff and get off my bus!”
Andrade began ordering the group of about 50 on what it will be doing and when it will speak.
We were stunned, but began to gather our belongings when Andrade barked again.
“Sit down!” she screamed. “You didn’t yell ‘Aye ma’am!’”
Respect and obedience is the first lesson recruits learn as they get off the bus and enter Parris Island for 12 weeks of boot camp.
Only difference is, their day begins at 4:15 a.m., seven days a week.
The first break they get is for lunch at 12:30 p.m. and that will last about 45 minutes before they resume training until dinner at 4.
Forty-five minutes later, recruits are back in the field until 7, where they have an hour to shower, write a letter to loved ones or read.
At 8 p.m., it’s lights out.
“The Marines have taught me so much,” said Ron Hostetler, 25, of Johnstown. “It is definitely a shock when you get here, but once you get over the words ‘I’ and ‘me,’ then you get over yourself and you see what it’s like to be a Marine.”
Hostetler is in Day 58 of the 69 it takes to graduate, and will soon be headed home for 10 days before taking on an assignment, he said.
Keegan Solomon, 23, of Johnstown, never met Hostetler, but said he had the same reasons for joining the Marines.
“Everyone here wants to be here,” he said. “I have learned so much already and this has made me a better person.”
Hostetler and Solomon met in the chow hall while several other recruits spoke with educators and journalists.
“This is very exciting,” said Nicole St. Clair, 27, of Bloomsburg. “I want to make this my career.”
The mother of a 5-year old boy said she wanted to join the Marines because she wanted to be the first woman in her family to be in the military.
Meanwhile, drill instructors leaned around every corner, working with recruits and making sure discipline was in order.
“Good morning sir,” several recruits said at once when the group of educators walked by. “We hope you are well today.”
Respect and dedication oozed out of the more seasoned recruits, while some looked rough and weren’t sure what was next.
“I’m amazed at what we are seeing and experiencing,” assistant principal Julie Roselli said.
“Seeing this will help us go back to our schools and explain to our children what kind of discipline and respect is taught here. This is just amazing.”
Drill instructor Newton might have summed up “respect” the best.
“Recruits will come here and they are mostly all very respectful,” she said. “Some try to talk back and get tough but they are the ones that learn real quick what respect is all about.”
The series continues all week in The Daily Item.