MARINE CORPS RECRUITING STATION, ALBANY, N.Y. – Youths from across Upstate New York will gather, April 27-28, to learn more about their commitment to the United States Marine Corps during the annual Recruiting Station Albany Combined Pool Function in Watervliet, NY. Some 450 future recruits from across Eastern New York will come face-to-face with active-duty Marine Corps drill instructors from Parris Island, S.C., to sharpen their physical and mental readiness for their pending enlistment.
Members of RS Albany’s Delayed Entry Program, also known as poolees, are slated to attend the two-day ‘Mini Boot Camp’ at the Watervliet Civic Center and Watervliet Arsenal, designed to help prepare them for the rigors of Marine Corps Recruit Training. They will be led by the active-duty drill instructors from Parris Island, and compete to earn distinction as winners of the Combined Pool Function field meet, scheduled for April 28.
“[The Combined Pool Function] will show us the importance of working as a team, and that’s what the Marine Corps is all about,” said poolee Mathieu M. Bechard. “Cooperation and working with others is an essential part of the Marine Corps.”
Bechard, a 17-year-old senior from Burnt Hills, N.Y., is excited for the opportunity to meet some of the drill instructors who are experts at training recruits. Having the drill instructors at the Combined Pool Function will give each poolee a sense of what to expect when they arrive at Recruit Training, according to Bechard, who is scheduled to depart for boot camp in September after graduating from Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School.
“The drill instructors will give us a glimpse of what Parris Island is going to be like. All the intensity [of the event] will help us prepare, and having other poolees there with us to share the experience will make it a little easier to go through,” said Bechard. “We all love competition, and it will give us the chance to really work as a group against other Substations. It also lets us know that there are kids out there just like us who are going through the exact same things.”
Recruiting Station Albany, comprised of nearly 70 Marines and two civilians, contacts, screens, and recruits over 450 young men and women from across Upstate New York annually, covering over 31,000 square miles of eastern New York. The Combined Pool Function gives RS Albany’s poolees a head start and solid footing before departing for boot camp, according to Sgt. Martha Herrera, pool specialist. The drill instructors will add a sense of realism for the poolees as they continue to prepare before arriving on the famed ‘Yellow Footprints’ at Parris Island.
“The Combined Poolee Function is important for the poolees because it allows them to experience some of the psychological and physical aspects of Recruit Training before departing for Parris Island,” said Herrera. “This small window of training, having the pressure of the drill instructors in their face and still having to perform, allows them to see and feel what to expect when they leave for boot camp.”
As the pool specialist, Herrera, a native of San Antonio and a former recruiter, is responsible for ensuring each poolee is trained and physically prepared before departing for Recruit Training. She works with each poolee’s recruiter to ensure each poolee remains physically, mentally, and morally fit for duty while members of the DEP, and the Combined Pool Function is a vital part of the process, according to Herrera.
“The Combined Poole Function is designed to instill the motivation in the poolees to finish what they started and the willingness to learn and to improve, physically and mentally, for the test of Marine Corps boot camp.”
Recruits from Upstate New York attend Recruit Training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, S.C., and may enlist in one of nearly 300 military occupational specialties in 30 separate job fields. Upon graduation from Recruit Training, Marines attend combat training and advanced training schools and may be stationed on the East Coast, West Coast, or overseas.