This past March, Eric Schuh flew across the country to start his Marine Corps training. I spoke with his family about his experience at Camp Pendleton as well as their experience on the other end of things. They gave some insight on what Marine Corps training is like, as well as what it’s like to have a family going through it. They also provided some tips for any parent about to help their child go through the process themselves.
Deciding to Enlist
Colleen, Eric’s mom, explains that Eric wanted to do something that other 18-year-olds weren’t doing. He actually graduated high school a semester early in January, and his dad, Terry, says “he wanted to do something significant with that extra time”. Eric has always been incredibly driven and motivated. In fact, Eric was already an Eagle Scout because he wanted to have a unique skill set. Colleen further explains that “Eric is a trades guy and he knew he didn’t want to spend four years in college”. Additionally, his mom explains that he’s always been very patriotic. His 13-year-old sister, Nora, adds that “Eric really wanted a challenge” so he joined the Marines because “they’re the best”.
Preparing for Training
Since Eric decided to enlist in September 2016, he had up until March to prepare for his training at Camp Pendleton. Physically, Eric trained really hard before leaving. Since he was already a Cross Country runner in high school, he kept that up. In addition, he also started swimming at the YMCA and weight training. Since he was training so hard before leaving, he actually ended up gaining 10 lbs at Camp Pendleton. The physical aspect aside, Eric also studied a lot with his sister to prepare. Nora helped quiz him with the 11 General Orders he needed to learn ahead of time and he worked on memorizing the history of the Marine Corps.
His Delayed Start
The fact that Eric is now a Marine is not the only thing that makes him incredible. Eric is actually a Cancer survivor. Because of this, however, it took him a bit longer to get started. The recruiter told Colleen that he’d never had to look through 300 pages of medical records for one recruit before. His Cancer medical records weren’t actually what held him back a week though. He irritated his knee wrestling a few years back and he had to send more medical records on that before he could leave. Unfortunately, this meant that Eric wasn’t able to make it home in time to graduate from high school with his twin brother, Gregg.
13 Weeks at Camp Pendleton
Marine Corps boot camp starts with the receiving week and is followed by 12 weeks of intense training. Eric’s first week of training was the hardest because he wasn’t able to sleep from Monday morning until Wednesday night. Colleen explains that the training his very mentally challenging and highly stressful– for the recruits and the parents. Luckily for Colleen, she found a few helpful resources for Marine parents. She explains that the MarineParents.com Facebook page was really wonderful. Additionally, Eric was in the 3rd Batallion, India Company, and they also had their own Facebook page. She says that these are really great resources for families of Marines.
Officially a Marine
On June 8th, the same day as his twin brother’s last day of school, Eric became a Marine. Colleen explains that Eric’s official Marine Corps graduation wasn’t until June 16th though. She says that the week between the two dates is called Marine Week and Eric was finally reunited with his family. 18 people came to see Eric’s Marine graduation. Additionally, the Thursday before graduation is Family Day, and he was able to spend six hours with everyone.
Right now, Eric is at home with his family until Monday. On Monday, Eric will return to Camp Pendleton for 29 days of Combat training. After that, he will go to Virginia, where he will get 13 weeks of Bulk Fuel Training and learn about safety and transportation. Colleen explains that since Eric is in the Marine Corps Reserves, once he finishes those 13 weeks, he will only need one weekend of training a month, plus two weeks every summer for the next four years. Then, the following two years he will only need to call in to refresh his skills.
While Eric isn’t entirely sure what he wants to do for a career, he knows that his experience as a Marine will help him accomplish all his goals.