By Coby SmithAugust 16, 2012
FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. (Aug. 16, 2012) -- All is quiet in the halls of the Marine Detachment on Fort Meade until about 4 a.m. when alarms start to blare, doors crack open and slam shut, and the sounds of shuffling can be heard down the stairs as the Devil Dogs head to morning formation.
With a daily schedule of formations, physical training, class, and for some, martial arts training, the lives of the MarDet Marines can be fast-paced and always regimented.
"It can get pretty stressful because by the time you go to class, you're already exhausted from PT, but you still have to make sure that you are alert and focused in class," said Pvt. Gerardo Meza. "Then once you come back at the end of the day, all your free time is devoted to homework -- if you really want to be successful."
Marines assigned to the Marine Detachment for schooling attend the Defense Information School, where they learn a range of Military Occupational Specialties in media from Combat Correspondent (Public Affairs) to Combat Camera and Combat Camera Repro/Graphics.
"The schooling is tough," said Pfc. Andrew Fildes, a DINFOS-trained combat correspondent. "A lot of focus is put into dealing with media and making sure that you represent your service in a professional manner."
Marines in the public affairs occupational field work so hard because they must be trained, equipped and postured to serve the force commanders as they execute their duties in keeping Marines and the American people informed of what is happening on the battlefield as well as aboard Marine Corps bases, according to the Headquarters Marine Corps Public Affairs website.
A Combat Camera Marine is trained in accurately documenting and sourcing critical information that can play a role in changing Marine Corps history.
"It's a big responsibility knowing how important the work you do can be," said Meza. "A lot of detail has to be put into your work. It's not finished until it's perfect."
According to Marine Corps Order 3104.1A, the mission of Marine Corps Combat Camera is to "provide commanders with photographic, video, digital layout and design production, printed products and archival capabilities which directly support Marine Corps operations, enhancing decision-making processes and situational awareness. Combat Camera supports all elements of the Marine Air Ground Task Force and Training Commands and Supporting Establishments with organically assigned personnel, providing a full range of professional imagery capabilities."
After a long day of class, most Marines are ready to call it a day, but some take it upon themselves to train even further.
The Marine Corps Martial Arts program is a hand-to-hand combatives program that emphasizes its slogan, "One mind, any weapon." Marines spend two hours every afternoon and four hours on Saturday mornings conditioning and learning new techniques in order to advance to the next belt level in the program.
"It's exhausting," said Pfc. Casey Scarpulla. "Some days you don't want to get out there and do it, but those are the times you have to be mentally tough and push yourself to continue."
Once Friday afternoon finally arrives, the exhausted Marines look forward to their weekend liberty.
However, after a couple of days off, they return Monday morning fresh and ready to tackle the week all over again.