When we met Matthew Duckworth and Justin Peter last fall, they had an idea of what boot camp would be like but they didn’t really know for certain.

Now they do and so do we.

Back in January, we were invited to Parris Island, South Carolina as part of the Educators Workshop. The USMC brings in teachers from around the country to give them a taste of what boot camp is like.

It’s because of this opportunity, we have an idea of what Peter and Duckworth went through.

Now, you will too.


January 9th, 2013
0500 hours
MCRD – Parris Island, SC 

The sun hasn’t woken up yet but the drill instructors sure have.

And every marine recruit sure will.

Intake Day at Parris Island begins with a bus ride to the depot. A drill instructor will casually walk onto the bus to greet the recruits in the only way the drill instructor knows how… by screaming.

“Starting off, you don’t know what’s going on,” said Marine Private Justin Peter. “You get off that bus and you’re in a whole new world.”

At Marine boot camp, there is no talking; there’s only screaming. There are no conversations; there are orders.

Weakness does not exist, at least, not for long.

The famed ‘Yellow Footprints’ are a starting point for every recruit. But each recruit determines where the footprints end.


To tell this story, let’s go back to the beginning. In October, we first met Matthew Duckworth and Justin Peter in Evansville.

Before joining the Delayed Entry program, they came from different backgrounds. Duckworth, a Henderson native, was home schooled. Peter graduated from Tell City High School. Their paths converged as they prepared to leave for boot camp. Thirteen weeks later, the two are preparing to leave from boot camp.

“I have so much pride,” said Duckworth. “Six months ago, I couldn’t see myself here with the Eagle Globe and Anchor on me. I still have trouble calling myself a Marine because I have trouble believing it myself sometimes.”

“It’s been the hardest thing in my life,” said Peter. “I came here knowing a little bit but not everything. It just hit me.”

You never know how strong you are until strength is the only thing you have left.

The senior drill instructors greet their fresh recruits with a fiery speech.

“You must work hard to strengthen your body, your spirit and your mind,” said one drill instructor. “We will not give up on you even when some of you have given up on yourself!”

At least in front of the educators, one of the drill instructors showed some personality through the wear and tear on his voice.

“If you call my voicemail, the guy in the message doesn’t sound anything like this,” said the drill instructor.

“You have your days where you wonder if you’re going to make it,” said Peter. “Your body goes through so much. It’s a struggle.”

It sounds absurd, but it’s a good thing pain is temporary. That’s because at Parris Island, there’s plenty of opportunity.

Pain creates progress.

“It really doesn’t mean anything about the individual when you come to recruit training,” said drill instructor Sgt. Wasserman. “It’s about the team. Everything they do, they do as a team. I’m not looking for one recruit to do very well. I’m looking for the group. I could care less if 5 recruits in my platoon are rockstars. It doesn’t mean anything unless the whole platoon is working together.”

“It’s pretty diverse,” said Duckworth. “We’ve got the ones that are really smart and those who aren’t so bright but we eventually all learned how to work together.”

Suffering is physical. Misery is mental.

Pain is temporary. Pride is forever.

“I have so much pride, I have trouble explaining it,” said Duckworth. “There’s so much joy inside.”

We continue our series Tuesday night. We’ll show you some of the rigors of boot camp including The Crucible, the final test of Marine recruit training.