MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
Once a year, students with the University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business volunteer to come to the Combat Center and get a glimpse of the Marine Corps world April 20 to 21, 2012. By the end of the 36-hour program, they hope to take in some leadership lessons to become better business professionals.
The students were invited to the 2012 Marshall Military Veterans Association Leadership Challenge by members of the school’s MMVA. The veterans association is comprised of students at the school. The veterans linked up with the Combat Center’s Sergeants Course staff to give their civilian classmates a taste of what they went through when they were in the military.
The students’ day began at the base’s gate. Gunnery Sergeants Benjamin Hester and Jarvis Johnson, both Sergeants Course instructors, were there to meet them and to introduce them to the military standards expected at the Combat Center.
The staff also enlisted the help of a Provost Marshal's Office sergeant to give the rundown of the rules and regulation the group needed to follow while on the installation.
A trio of drill instructors also added to the realism Marines go through to earn their title.
“In the program, we use a bit of shock and awe,” said Master Sgt. Todd Lewis, director, Sergeants Course. “It gets really intense in the beginning of the program, and then we ease it up.”
The day started off by giving the students the Marine Corps boot camp experience during their brief 36-hour challenge.
The students had an idea of what they were getting into, but the look on their faces as they rushed off the bus said they weren’t expecting exactly what was waiting for them.
The drill instructors, with the help of some Sergeant’s Course staff, flooded to the door of the bus and guided the students off in a flurry of orders and indiscriminate shouting.
“We came here with some expectations that it would be tough,” said first-year student Pieter Breur. “But you never really know how tough until you get here.
The students were swept up and ran through the “receiving” phase of boot camp in a mere hour.
Just as quickly as the students came on to the Combat Center, the students were formed into squads and leaders assigned.
The night was coming fast, so the students were rushed into squad bays where they would be sleeping for the night. There, they had procedures for making a proper military rack drilled into their head.
“Not 40 degrees, not 50 degrees, a 45-degree angle fold,” said one of the drill instructors.
The next morning was the start to an eventful day for the students. The students were woken up at 5:30 a.m., with a somewhat decreased intensity than the evening prior. They went from the first phase of boot camp to the third phase overnight.
In a classroom setting, the students learned more about the Marine Corps and what it does. Their time included classes on Marine Corps leadership traits and customs and courtesies. They were also treated to a display with a wide array of weaponry.
The students then stepped into the boots of a deployed Marine, getting a taste of training a Marine endures before entering a combat zone. They went through the Improvised Explosive Device simulator. Some left the IED trailers with a new appreciation for what Marines have to go through while deployed to a combat zone.
“I didn’t realize that the Marines had so many hardships,” said first-year student Ivana King. “Those IEDs really can be hidden in anything.”
The students had difficulties in parts of the day. They took on the Marine Corps obstacle course. They ran individually, and then as squads. They worked their team through, with the help of the instructors.
At the end of the day, the group boarded their bus and headed back home. The 2012 MMVA Leadership Challenge proved to be just that, a challenge. The business students from USC now know a little bit more in how the Marine Corps operates and leads.
“I think we pushed it to the limit,” Breur said. “I’m glad we did it.”