MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- It was 2 a.m., the air was warm and the only sounds were the few scuffles of Marines checking their gear. All of the gear the Marines were about to take with them on their nine mile conditioning hump was perfectly covered down and aligned with the gear around it.
The Marines of Company G, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, prepared to venture out on their weekly conditioning hump.
Pfc. Zachery R. Terry, a squad automatic weapon gunner in 1st Squad, 1st Platoon, has been around the Marine Corps his entire life. His father, a retired gunnery sergeant, was an infantry man for 20 years.
“My father being in the infantry pushed me toward going into the infantry,” Terry said.
Formation was called and Terry fell into his place in the platoon. He had all his gear with him, including his machinegun, flack jacket, Kevlar helmet and a hydration system.
“Growing up with the Marine Corps all around me, all I saw was how Marines are held to a higher standard,” said Terry. “Growing up, it’s the only thing I wanted to do.”
The Marines started the hike at a grueling pace but Terry was fully prepared for it. The week prior, his squad leader had them go on a similar hike in preparation for the company’s hike.
“As a Marine, I know I must be ready to get deployed,” Terry said. “I’m not really sure what to think about it. I know it comes with the job, but I know I’ll miss my family and friends for the seven months I am gone.”
The early morning hours didn’t affect Terry as he pushed on, carrying his weapon and his gear. He also volunteered to carry a stretcher for his squad during the hike.
“When people look at Marines, they put us in a category of our own,” said Terry. “We are the best the country has, and that’s what I’ve always wanted to be.”
The hump stopped briefly after three miles and Terry sat down to rest his feet. Marines all around him were sipping water and talking about the training they would be doing. The platoon commanders called the two-minute warning and Terry was back on his feet to start again.
“Becoming a Marine was me following in my parents footsteps,” said Terry. “They both where Marines and they instilled in me the same high standards the Marines instilled in them.”
The sun started to fill the sky as the Marines traveled down the road. The temperature seemed to rise with each step and the Marines felt their perspiration beginning to douse their uniforms.
The Marines took their final steps as they approached the barracks where they started three hours prior. Terry felt the relief of removing his gear. His utilities were saturated with perspiration from the strenuous hike but he stood tall among the rest of the Marines and showed no signs of exhaustion.
One Marine following in his father’s footsteps knew he made his dad proud. He held his head high as he walked back to his room to clean up after the nine mile hike and prepared for the training that was soon to come.