MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif. --
“Oh hell,” said Lance Cpl. Nathan Goens when it finally dawned on him the morning of June 27 what he had gotten himself into.
Goens, a heavy equipment operator with Combat Logistics Battalion 7, was on his way to Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego to be the first one to take the challenge his former senior drill instructor, Staff Sgt. Nathan Schoemer, puts out to every one of his graduating platoons — to come back as Fleet Marines to grapple their former senior drill instructor.
“He’s about 6 feet, 13 inches tall — 650 pounds of muscle,” Goens quipped in a thick Irish accent. “He’s basically a beast, a monster of a man—and I’m going to grapple him – I’m so dead.”
He didn’t let that sentiment show when he walked up to Schoemer at 6 feet, 2 inches, and 200 pounds and exchanged some good-humored trash talk and stories from boot camp.
“I remember when he [Goens] came running into the squad bay with a group of green-belt drill instructors on his heels,” said Schoemer, a Chicago native. “Turns out, he walked by them and shouted, ‘top o’ the mornin’ to ya, gents,’ then realized it was a mistake and took off running.”
“Then there were the times Goens would pound on my hatch in the middle of the night, just for a chat,” he recalled. “Overall, he was just a crazy recruit.”
After talking for a while, the two got down to business, walking to the very same pit Goens learned the basics of the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program just one year ago.
The two twisted and rolled for minutes, slinging dirt and pieces of rubber into the sky, neither one gaining any ground on the other.
Every few moments it looked like one was coming close to putting the other in arm-bars, leg-bars and guillotines to no avail. As soon as one came close, the other would slip out and start working on getting the other in a move.
After a while of this, Goens screamed out in pain as his knee came down hard on the ground and started bleeding, but he wouldn’t give up.
“I was hurting out there pretty bad,” said the Wichita, Kan. native. “But ever since I heard the challenge go out a year ago, I wanted to come back here, and I was going to make him work if he was going to beat me.”
True to his word, Goens fought hard until Schoemer finally tapped out, making his former recruit the victor.
“I underestimated you,” said an exhausted Schoemer to an even more exhausted Goens. “I thought that this morning was going to be a cake walk. I guess I was wrong.”
After they finished their match, the two stayed in the pit, exchanging grappling tips and techniques to one another, and laughing about the result of their bout.
As the pair parted ways once again, Schoemer congratulated Goens and made sure he understood to stay motivated for the rest of his time in the Marine Corps.
Goens’ reply was simply a bellowed, “kill!”