Metro teens enlisting in Marines get a preview of boot camp

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1000 in Independence looked and sounded a lot like a boot camp for the U.S. Marine Corps on Tuesday night.

“It’s intense. It’s meant to be intense,” Major Byron Johnson said.

About two dozen teenagers who have enlisted in the Marines "delayed-entry program" got a small taste of what it’s like to have a drill instructor order you to sit down. And then stand up. And then sit down again.

“What it’s supposed to simulate is the friction and uncertainty that you’re going to experience in a combat environment,” Johnson said.

With their parents and extended families welcome to attend, the soon-to-be-Marines -- referred to as "poolees" -- got a quick crash course on the rigors and demands of boot camp.

For these teens who've never had a drill instructor bark a series of contradictory orders at them in rapid succession, it can be intimidating.

But high school senior Marisa Palmer said she rather enjoyed it.

“I didn’t really feel anything,” Palmer said. “I was just like, ‘Yeah, they’re yelling at me,’ so I enjoyed it. I felt like it was the time of my life, and I’m really prepared to go and really ready.”

Teens who enlist in the delayed-entry program can still back out of Marine boot camp after this event, sometimes called Drill Instructor Night.

But on this night in Independence, all of the "poolees" said they were sticking with the plan to ship out to boot camp this summer.

“When you join the Marine Corps, that’s what you expect,” said Marisa’s mother, Starlen Palmer.