Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego
By: John Hampton
The Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) San Diego CA is one of the show places of the Marine Corps. The facility is located adjacent to the San Diego International Airport (Lindbergh Field), and occupies approximately 400 acres.
The Marine Corps Base at San Diego was originally established by Major General Joseph H. Pendleton in July of 1914. He recognized the strategic value of the harbor and surrounding areas as a place where Marines could be trained and deployed throughout the Pacific when needed.
A great deal of the land encompassing MCRD was reclaimed from San Diego Bay, including that portion where Lindbergh Field now exists. And the majority of the construction was completed in 1924.
During WWII, the base served as a training center, supply depot and embarkation point. More than 200,000 Marines passed through the facility during that era. Large numbers of those Marines were deployed to the Pacific and participated in the many storied and harrowing amphibious assaults of the Island Hopping Campaign. Battles at Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Saipan and Iwo Jima, to name just a few, have become synonymous with Marine honor, courage, commitment, self-sacrifice and esprit de corps that are such a prominent part of Marine Corps history.
Although training basic Marines has been one of the Depot’s major functions since early in its history, it was not until January of 1948 that it was officially designated Marine Corps Recruit Depot. MCRD is also home to Drill Instructor School and Recruiter School.
Recruit training is 13 weeks in length and divided into three phases. Approximately 17,000 new Marines graduate from MCRD San Diego each year. >From here, they go to various Marine bases for additional and more specific training related to their specific MOS (military occupational specialty). Click here to see some recruit training in progress.
On August 24, I attended a recruit graduation at MCRD San Diego. Upon arrival, I noted that the grounds were immaculate, not a blade of grass was out of place and the Marines were as squared away as ever. Prior to the actual graduation ceremony, I had the opportunity to interview Gunnery Sergeant Sims. Gunnery Sergeant Sims is a Drill Instructor at Drill Instructor School.
I graduated from MCRD in 1980. I then served there in 1982 and part of 1983. I had not been back since. I attended many graduations during 1982 and 1983, and my most recent experience was no less moving and patriotic. More than 400 new Marines graduated that day as thousands of family members, friends and Patriots cheered them on!
The American Flag, the Marine Band and the marching stirred many emotions and had me wishing I was young enough to do it all over again. The enthusiasm, pride and willingness to serve displayed by these young men were an inspiration. They are ready, willing and able to serve and defend the Constitution of the United States of America. Semper Fidelis!
John Hampton lives in Tehachapi CA and is quite concerned about the policies and motives of the current Administration. He believes in a system that holds our freedoms sacred, promotes personal responsibility, prudence and high moral standards.