Fourteen Seattle metropolitan-area leaders and three other civic leaders – most having little or no exposure to the military – visited three Greater San Diego-area Marine Corps installations March 7-8.
The visitors began the inaugural West Coast Marine Corps Executive Forum at the yellow footprints at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego.
The forum established relationships between the Corps and senior business representatives in preparation for the upcoming Seattle Marine Week, said Headquarters Marine Corps spokesperson Capt. Maureen Dooley.
According to Seattle.gov, Marine Week is a celebration of community, country and Corps, and provides the unique experience to directly connect the American public with its Marines.
The forum began with drill instructors yelling “Get off my bus!” and shouting orders to show the visitors what the first days of Marine Corps boot camp is like. The exhibition ended with a tour of the recruit depot, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar and Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.
“I thought about my kids and what an extreme change (boot camp) would be for them,” said Allan Bradshaw, a civil engineer and forum participant.
The group visited the Confidence Course, where they watched recruits conduct morning physical training exercises and the Marine Corps Water Survival Training facility, where recruits must complete swim qualifications.
“I could only imagine the weight of the uniform and boots in the water,” said Ron Calvin, a forum member who is the managing director of in-flight operations for Alaska Airlines. “Seeing the recruits jump from the high tower was intense.”
After touring the facilities where men learn to be Marines, the forum members were transported to Miramar where they received an exposition on F/A-18, MV-22B Osprey and AH-12 aircraft.
“It was fantastic getting to see that the equipment we have is state-of-the-art,” said Bradshaw. “I was expecting to see older models.”
After seeing some recruit training and Marine Corps aviation assets, the forum members ate meals, ready-to-eat.
“I’d eat MREs every day,” said Bradshaw. “It was better than I thought it would be. I was impressed.”
Field instructors with Weapons Field Training Battalion of MCRD San Diego gave the group a brief on weapons safety and coached them on proper shooting techniques at Edson Range, Camp Pendleton.
“I’m a shooter, so (I would) have been there all day,” said Bradshaw.
After firing M-16A4 service rifles, the forum participants were given a tour of the Infantry Immersion Trainer by site manager Robert Thielen. The IIT is a simulator designed to provide Marine riflemen with a fully interactive environment to practice close-quarters combat and small-unit leadership during a firefight.
Thielen walked the group through the indoor training area, pointing out speakers that produced ambient sounds and fans that wafted scents that resemble those of combat zones to which Marines are presently deployed.
“Wow! That was the highlight for me,” said Bradshaw. “I had no idea we had anything like that. I was very impressed with the technology.”
The first day of the event came to a close with a dinner held at the Camp Pendleton home of Brig. Gen. Vincent A Coglianese, the base commanding general and regional authority for five military installations in the Southwestern United States.
Day two began with a morning colors ceremony at the recruit depot. Brig. Gen. Daniel D. Yoo, the commanding general of MCRD San Diego and the Western Recruiting Region, welcomed the forum members during his opening remarks and discussed the executive forum program with them over breakfast at the Bay View Restaurant.
The final event of the program took place on MCRD San Deigo’s parade deck and featured the nation’s newest Marine Corps boot camp graduates.
The forum attendees promptly found their seats and shortly after the graduation ceremony of Company K commenced.
“It was moving,” said Calvin after the graduates rushed to find their families. “The colors and graduation ceremonies really brought the tour together.”
“(The participants) were all very happy and we should see the effects of this during Marine Week and beyond,” said Dooley.
For more information on the Marine Corps Executive Forum visit www.community.marines.mil, and to learn more about Marine Week in Seattle visit Seattle.gov.
Contact Lance Cpl. Sarah Wolff-Diaz at firstname.lastname@example.org