There are four words that all enlisted Marines remember until the day they die. Four words shouted early in the morning at a bunch of recruits that forever signify an end of one way of life and entry into another.
“Get off my bus!”
Each year, roughly 30,000 enlistees travel to Marine Corps boot camp hoping to become a Marine.
Several days a week, as buses arrive in the dark of the night at the receiving barracks of one of two recruit-training depots, a Marine Corps drill instructor boards each bus, stands inside at the front of the bus and gives a few brief directions. Then, before doing a sharp left face and exiting the bus, he barks out the four words — and everything becomes a blur of motion.
From that point on and for the next three months, screaming drill instructors will descend in swarms over the recruits, nitpicking every move each of them makes. But at the end of it, each recruit emerges with reservoirs of pride, self-discipline, courage and a sense that nothing is impossible. They will also have a title that joins them to a brotherhood that goes back more than 200 years.
For Richard Doyen, now a sergeant and the United States Marine Corps recruiter for Grays Harbor, the day he heard the words was Jan. 30, 2006. When the bus pulled up to receiving at Parris Island, S.C., Doyen started a one-man pep talk.
Boot camp was intense
“I said, ‘Let’s see what you’ve got,’ to myself,” Doyen said. Initially, the drill instructors and the intensity of everything surprised Doyen.
“I guess I was more taken by surprise at how loud, demanding and structured things were on that first night,” Doyen said.
Doyen went through the usual — squad bay games, close-order drill, marksmanship, chow, forced marches, more drill, more chow, regular morning physical training, physical training sessions on the quarterdeck, “corrective” physical training sessions in the pit, lessons on Marine Corps history, lessons on military customs and courtesy, lessons on combat first aid, still more drill and numerous inspections.
About three months later, Doyen marched across the parade deck of Parris Island, a Marine. The four words were no longer a source of anxiety, but a source of pride.
“What boot camp did was reinforce my ability to be a leader,” he said.
Doyen, who moved to Aberdeen this November, is the new Marine Corps recruiter for the Harbor. This is his first tour of duty as a recruiter. Overall, his job is to “build the future of the Marine Corps” by bringing in the highest-qualified candidates he can find for service. A larger part of the job, he said, is to represent the Marine Corps to the greater public in the Harbor.
Along with being a drill instructor, recruiting duty is one of the most respected, and career-enhancing jobs in the Corps. It is also the most publicly visible job there is in the Marines. The selection process is rigorous and only the best are selected. So far, since he arrived, he has helped four people enlist into the Marines.
Part of Doyen’s approach, and the approach of most all Marine recruiters, comes through the power of setting an example, something taught in boot camp and re-emphasized in different leadership schools in the Marines. Doyen goes into schools and places where other community activities are being hosted and sets an example with his uniform, the way he conducts himself, his respect toward others and with his military bearing.
Even if no one joins the Marines, the impression alone is meant to give students and others something to strive for and a role model to emulate.
His mantra to potential recruits and students who aren’t interested in serving is relatively similar, pursue excellence. He wants young people to think about how they can achieve their dreams. Specifically, he wants them to see how the Marine Corps can help them achieve those dreams.
“I want them to think, ‘I could totally change my life, and it’s available four blocks away,’ ” Doyen said.
Doyen is a native of New Jersey. And thanks to a Marine career counselor who was looking out for him, Doyen’s last duty station was to a base in New Jersey with a Marine Reservist unit. As a supply and logistics sergeant, Doyen was one of a small contingent of active duty Marines in charge of training and maintaining the readiness of the Reservists.
Before that, Doyen deployed to Ramadi, a city in Central Iraq plagued by heavy insurgent fighting. Although Doyen said he never engaged in combat against enemy troops, his base came under fire on a regular basis. After returning from the deployment to Iraq, Doyen deployed on a ship. Marines commonly deploy on floats to either the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean or to the Pacific and Indian oceans and the Persian Gulf.
A Marine for 7 years
While in New Jersey, Doyen looked for other opportunities in the Marine Corps, put in for recruiting duty and the request was granted. He has been a Marine for seven years.
Originally Doyen thought he was going to be stationed in California, but things didn’t work out that way. Looking at weather information about the region, Doyen said he remembers thinking, “That’s a lot of rain.” The fact that Aberdeen was pretty much the exact opposite of New Jersey gave him pause for thought, Doyen said, “I got here and I didn’t know what to expect.” Doyen said he is getting used to the slower pace of the Harbor and he characterizes the people here as “super friendly.” His girlfriend of two years, Emily, has just moved to the Harbor. Doyan said he spends a lot of time getting out into nature with Maia, his Staffordshire terrier. He also loves going to the YMCA to work out and swim. Finally, another favorite activity is playing golf.
Being a recruiter in a small town isn’t a matter of just getting people to sign on a dotted line. Recruiters have to be invested in parts of a community, said Marine Staff Sgt. John Offergeld, Doyen’s boss.
He compared it to being a mayor of a town who tries to get out and know everyone in that town. This is especially important because many people in the civilian world don’t know much about the reality of being a Marine.
Some, Doyen said, idealize them. Others in high school are actually afraid of them on some level.
“You have to get out there and let them know you aren’t an image.”