MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan --
Before there were drill instructors, there was the recruiter.
The first in a long line of many who will eventually influence a Marine’s life, the recruiter is an integral role in the Marine Corps.
The recruiter shares the burden of helping shape and strengthen the Marine Corps, a responsibility he/she shares with the drill instructor counterparts.
In order for drill instructors to accomplish their mission of transforming civilians into Marines, they must first have recruits to do so.
That is where the recruiter comes into play.
Often decked out in their dress blue deltas or charlies, the recruiter serves as a contrast to his overly dramatic counterpart. But it is that contrast which helps recruiters in fulfilling the needs of the Marine Corps.
An essential aspect of recruiting is the ability to engage people in everyday conversation.
“We go out and area canvas,” said Staff Sgt. Richard Guzman, a former recruiter in Houston, TX. “You look for people.”
In the process of looking for potential recruits, public speaking becomes crucial. Recruiters attempt to sell the Marine Corps to those willing to listen. Timidity, Guzman said, greatly hinders mission accomplishment.
“I had all the techniques and knowledge down but when I was actually out there, it was difficult,” said Guzman.
The difficulty arose from the task of approaching random strangers and engaging them in conversation said Guzman. Guzman said he overcame that barrier through constant repetition by talking to people he encountered while searching for potential recruits.
“Rejection was the biggest pitfall for me,” said Master Sgt. Rodney Buentello, former recruiter in San Antonio, TX now headquarters and Headquarters Squadron S-3 chief. “I kind of took it as my mom telling me no, but once you learned to get used to the rejection, ‘no’ is just a word.”
Buentello compared it to being a college football scout.
“You have to sit down with applicants and their parents and sell the Marine Corps,” said Buentello. “We have to take these kids off the streets, convince them the Marine Corps is good to go, then go to boot camp and get yelled at for three months.”
Recruiters are often faced with the task of continuously finding able bodies throughout the year to fill the needs of the Marine Corps.
It is a task that often starts early in the morning and ends sometimes late in the night. Recruiters do not have the added benefit of a concrete schedule as compared to drill instructors.
This has given rise to a misconception about recruiters and their schedule throughout the day.
“Drill instructors have a set schedule. Recruiters don’t. You’ve already got the recruit there. He’s got nowhere to go,” said Buentello.
In the process of searching for potential recruits, recruiters must maintain their professional lives and their personal lives.
Trying to find balance in that equation can prove difficult for some but can be balanced by careful planning and patience.
“If you start forgetting about your family, then eventually your family is going to forget about you,” said Buentello. “So if I had an hour or two lunch break, I would set up a lunch date with my wife or go grocery shopping with her, all the while still looking for applicants.”
Often times, recruiters’ family members will aid in the search for finding potential recruits, giving them that extra push to meet their quota but also bringing families closer together by finding a common thread.
Time becomes vital in that respect. Staff Sgt. Jon L. Colbert, from recruiter in Memphis, Tenn. not Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron career planner and, explained how he managed to do both.
Colbert remarked that often times his wife would assist him in finding potential recruits during her own workday.
Colbert also added that every day was still different, citing that a fine line needed to be maintained when tying both professional and personal lives together.
For some recruiters, the negative thoughts civilians have of the Corps can make recruiting difficult.
The media and entertainment industries have often aided in perpetuating this perception of the Corps.
“People think you’re lying to kids,” said Guzman. “I took offense to that.”
Recruiters and drill instructors form a symbiotic relationship.
Recruiters provide drill instructors with potential recruits who may become Marines and drill instructors make sure the individuals recruiters send to them are of the highest standards.
It is through this relationship that they work together to allow the Marine Corps to be what it is today.
To the men who have served as the softspoken ambassadors for the Corps, they know that their continued service, selfsacrifice and scrutiny have helped to ensure the continuation of the Corps for years to come.