Making a Marine: 'Every day feels like it's going to be the hardest'

Making a Marine: 'Every day feels like it's going to be the hardest' »Play Video
New recruits drill with rifles and bayonets.

Tony Gist and Beth Ford from KVAL News spent the first week of boot camp with new Marine recruits. Watch their report Making a Marine on KVAL News @ 6 p.m. through Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2012.

SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- Marine recruits practice like it's real: one day, they may have to kill.

So they wield their bayonets with controlled fury.

"Every day feels like it's going to be the hardest," said Dustin Bargas, a recruit from Springfield and graduate of Springfield High School.

"And when I get to the next day," he said, "it's like 'Oh, that wasn't so bad.'

"You really have to want it," explained Bargas.

KVAL News photojournalist Tony Gist gave the obstacle course a shot. By the end, he was exhausted.

"I expected boot camp to be way more physical and less mental than it is," explained Tyler Birky, a recruit from Bend. "It was as hard as I thought but in a different way than I thought."

Recruits must pass a Combat Fitness Test, or CFT while at boot camp. The test includes sprints, crawls, and carrying a fellow recruit.

"I really came here for the physical challenge, but I didn't know how much I was going to get," said Joshua Jones, a recruit from Modesto, Calif..

Recruits learn to use their bodies as weapons through martial arts training, and learn to use actual weapons at Camp Pendleton. Weapons training came naturally for some recruits.

"The biggest thing for me was I've never shot a weapon before in my life," said Birky. "So being able to come here and learn, and I ended up shooting really well. I shot a really high expert score, which was really nice."

Every single movement in boot camp is choreograped, but when recruits finally earn the title "Marine," they said the focus on perfection will pay off.

"Second to my daughter's birth, it's probably going to be the best thing I've ever felt in my life," said Jones.