The culminating event of Marine Corps Recruit Training is know simply as "The Crucible." Consisting of little sleep, arduous exercise, and long hikes, this event tests every aspect of recruits' physical and mental strength and endurance. During this 54 hour event, young men and women will embark as Recruits, but they will emerge as Marines.
The Crucible begins with an early reveille, typically around 0200 or 0300. Once all Recruits and equipment are accounted for, a citation highlighting the deeds of Marines past will be recited by a Drill Instructor, and the Company Commander will lead the Recruits on a 7-9 mile hike to the training area. Recruits will take breaks for gear checks, head calls, and water at least once during this movement.
Once the company arrives in the training area, they will then break into groups to complete a rotation of six daytime events and two night events. The daytime event order will be determined by the training staff during the planning phase and can be different for each group, but the night events are always set for the first and second day. Before starting each individual event, a unit or individual citation will be recited by a Recruit in the same way to the Drill Instructors did before the initial hike.
The first event consists of a fire team attack through a course of simulated booby traps and automatic weapons fire. Recruits must navigate through the course in order to attack the enemy and consolidate on the objective.
During the second event recruits will conduct bouts of pugil sticks and body sparring conducted in a specially constructed ring with added chaos in their surrounding. They will then transition to a set of decision-making and team-working exercises known as the Leadership Reaction Course. Completion of these exercises can be difficult, but most are solvable with patience and humility.
Next, groups will conduct a casualty recovery drill. During this drill they will be required to quickly locate an injured fellow Marine and escort them to an evacuation site. Simulated automatic weapons fire will be prevalent. The first evening will be wrapped up with a night resupply hike where teams of four to six will be burdened with a number of 30 to 50 pound ammunition cans in addition to their combat load. Recruits will be required to complete their hike with all their cans within the set pace.
The second day of The Crucible commences another combat resupply mission, but recruits will find themselves one with the sand as they must crawl though obstacles to meet their intended objective. Once the resupply is complete, they must immediately transition to the attack. Armed with bayonets (a knife affixed to the muzzle end of their weapon), Recruits will locate, close with, and destroy a series of targets with slashes and stabs intended to incapacitate an enemy.
The next event is a small marathon. Recruits must conduct a hasty movement through a series of obstacles such as balance beams, cargo nets, concertina wire, and high walls to execute a hasty movement to contact. They will not enjoy this event.
The last daytime event consists of a live fire range which Recruits will engage responsive targets seeking a high team score. They must then conduct a fighting withdrawal from the firing line, but team casualties will be assessed if they improperly execute movement techniques. The second night event is composed of a final resupply course. Recruits will again be burdened with a ammo can of at least 30 pounds to transport to a friendly unit in need. Unlike the previous night's event, they will be required to execute low and high crawls through razor wire and other obstacles. Noise and light discipline are key to successfully completing this event.
The capstone of The Crucible begins with another early rise at around 0300. Recruits will tightly pack their equipment then load then don their main packs for at least a nine-mile journey. Though they will have the breaks typical to a tactical hike, the weight of the past two days will burden Recruits more than the weight on their backs. Operating on little sleep and limited rations, they will be mentally and physically drained, so only resilient Recruits will complete the event.
The sun will rise on this day and the company will emerge to a familiar site, typically a rendition of the Iwo Jima monument. Here, Recruits will officially earn their title of United States Marine, and they will earn the coveted Eagle, Globe, and Anchor.
They will remember this moment for the rest of their lives.