One of the training grounds for U.S. Marine Corps recruits is on Parris Island, in the southern U.S. state of South Carolina. About 17,000 recruits each year complete the challenging training known as "boot camp." Many of them say it is the hardest thing they have ever done.
Marine Corps boot camp is considered the toughest American military basic training. Men and women from the ages of 17 to 29 spend three months doing intense physical exercise, military drills, hand to hand combat, marksmanship and water survival. They must meet high physical fitness standards — and learn how to survive in all kinds of elements. Parris Island tears down the recruits as individuals — rebuilds them as a group.
The recruits must pass a grueling 54-hour combat exercise known as "The Crucible." They have to navigate obstacle courses and hike a total of 67 kilometers. They get little sleep or food.
During graduation ceremonies the recruits are called Marines for the first time. About 10 percent of the men do not complete the training mostly because of injuries. The new Marines know many of them will be going to Iraq or Afghanistan.