Marine graduation marks a milestone - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Marine graduation marks a milestone

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SAN DIEGO -- After more than a dozen weeks of hard knocks and intense training, recruits finally walk across this parade deck as full fledged Marines. And after a taste of Corps life, our teachers can hardly keep their emotions in check.

"Overwhelming. Didn't quite know what to think. I thought it was gonna be pretty emotional but I was glad I had on sunglasses. I was tearing up pretty heavily under my sunglasses today. It was awesome," said Jon McKinney of Kennett High School

Graduation seems especially awesome for recruits like Caleb Malone.

The Springfield-area native joined up for a life-changing experience.

"Honestly, I wanted to be the best. I wanted to be with the best and feel the best," said Malone.

And after weeks of training, leadership, and discipline, he's ready for a break.  

"If you're tired, you can't let yourself think you're tired. If you want to give up, you can't let yourself give up," he said.

He and hundreds of others show their fortitude every day.

After all the sacrifice and hard work, this is where boot camp comes to an end, with a ceremony like no other.

The Corps has turned these young men into leaders

"Our mission is to make Marines, and I know that it's easier said than done, that transformation process from a young civilian to a young man when they walk across that parade deck as a Marine," explained Col Stefan Bien Asst. Chief of Staff MCRD

And it's a transformation Malone hopes will show inside and out.

"I know when I go home,  everyone's going to see me differently look at me differently and hopefully for the better," he said.

So as our boot camp experience ends, for the Marines and the teachers, the visit holds lessons for all.

"Every day I gained more respect for the Marines, the program, you know, the support systems they have for the kids is just overwhelming unbelievable and today at graduation, and some of the things I saw yesterday, I'm in tears with what was going on there," McKinney said.

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    SAN DIEGO --  Most of our series on Marine Corps recruit training has focused on physical training and hardware. But the Corps went to great lengths to show the teachers the benefits of the Corps, too, both ones they get in the Corps and benefits to society when they leave.

    SAN DIEGO --  Most of our series on Marine Corps recruit training has focused on physical training and hardware. But the Corps went to great lengths to show the teachers the benefits of the Corps, too, both ones they get in the Corps and benefits to society when they leave.

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