Every month at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, a new group of Marines attend and graduate the air station’s Corporal’s Course. This month 32 Marines are set to graduate, March 13.
While at Corporal’s Course, these Non-Commissioned Officers are taught to exemplify the highest military bearing, integrity, discipline, and lead their peers and subordinates in physical standards. NCO’s are charged with training, teaching, and mentoring the next generation of Marines. NCO’s are taught to lead from the front, at the points of friction.
“For some people it may be the most difficult physical training they’ve ever done. It’s tailored to the needs of the Marine Corps and not the individuals,” said Gunnery Sgt. Justin Starleigh. “It’s good to see a change. Some Marines come here and struggle with Physical Fitness Tests and at the end of the course they’re able to pass them with no problem.”
Throughout the course, the Marines are put through a barrage of physical tests. They begin with an initial Physical Fitness Test and from then on, are expected to perform each and every day. By the end of the course they have completed a Combat Fitness Test, numerous high mileage runs, simulated casualty rescues, the obstacle course on base, multiple High Intensity Tactical Training classes, and the Combat Endurance Course at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island.
“We model our PT mostly after the Marine Corps HITT program,” said Gunnery Sgt. Justin Starleigh the staff non-commissioned officer in charge of Corporal’s Course. “We have prescribed amount of PT hours we are supposed to reach as a part of our course but we almost always go over those hours.”
Not only are the Marines tested individually, but as teams or squads. They have competitions based on how well they perform as a team, calling into practice everything they have been taught about leadership, discipline, and commitment.
“It’s both physically and mentally demanding working together as a team, staying together and making sure no one is left behind,” said Cpl. Rodriqueke Faulks, a block NCO with Weapons Training Battalion aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island. “We did an obstacle course race in groups of three and it’s important that everyone knew their job and knew how to work together.”
The course’s physical training is based on the Marine Corps’ High Intensity Tactical Training program. According to their website, the HITT program’s purpose is to enhance operational fitness levels and optimize combat readiness and resiliency. The comprehensive strength and conditioning program takes into consideration the physical demands of operational related activities in order to optimize physical performance while in combat, emphasizing strength, speed, power, and endurance while minimizing injuries.
“I think I’ll use every part of what I learned here and apply it to my shop every day,” said Faulks. “We usually just do range type exercises and this course has definitely helped me diversify my PT plan so I have more to bring back to my shop so we can all train and get stronger as a whole.”
As well as physical training, the course covers sword and guidon drilling, Marine Corps knowledge and history, customs and courtesies, and basic ethics and moral discussions on honor, courage and commitment.
“I think one of the most important aspects I’ve been taught in all of this, is that even though, we as NCOs lead from the front, we are only as strong as our weakest link,” said Cpl. Jay Latimer, a Heavy Equipment Operator with Marine Wing Support Detachment 31. “Even though I might be good at PT, I am leading these Marines and I am responsible for making sure all of us make it to the end together. PT is something I am passionate about and now I have the tools to pass along what I have learned.”