What it takes to become honor platoon

Qualifying on the rifle range is not only a graduation requirement for recruits but also part of deciding which platoon will become the honor platoon. After recruits' qualifications, their scores are added together to find the average number. The platoon with the highest average wins the rifle range portion of the competition.Photo by Lcpl Javarre Glanton.

PARRIS ISLAND, S.C., (September 22, 2011) -- During the final nine-mile hike of the Crucible, going from Page Field to the Marine Corps War Memorial, each recruit company stops to rest one final time before earning the title Marine.

It is at this time the platoon's guidon, or the flag that bears the unit's identification number, is withheld from them until the finish of the hike, wherein drill instructors place each platoon's guidon in front of the weary recruits. While most platoons are presented their respective guidon, one platoon proudly receives three, representing their platoon, series and company, identifying them as the company's honor platoon.

Honor platoons gain the title by winning various competitions between the platoons in a single company. The platoons are graded as a whole on six different events, including Initial drill, Final drill, a written test in Marine Corps knowledge, rifle range scores and the physical and combat fitness tests.

Throughout the entire training cycle, the platoons of each company are told how important it is to strive for the distinction.

"You have to explain to them that it's not just about getting honor platoon," said Staff Sgt. Emilio Moran, senior drill instructor of Platoon 3074, Kilo Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion. "I tell them that you don't have to put out 100 percent just because I said to – you have to want it for yourself."

Moran, a five-time honor platoon winner, led his Marines to once again be recognized during the pass in review on the company's Family Day.

"I tell my recruits that everything in the Marine Corps is about competition," explained the 29-year-old Brooklyn, N.Y., native. "At the end of the day, I don't care about honor platoon – I want them to look in the mirror at the end of the day and be able to say, ‘I gave it my all.'"

Through the teamwork of up to 80 strangers, the platoons are inspired by the experiences they have shared with their fellow recruits or Marines.

"I was actually surprised that we got it," said 18-year-old Pfc. Joshua Pent, guide of Platoon 3074, Kilo Company, 3rd RTBn. "We finally came together and worked as a team and that paid off when we found out.

"It was kind of hard to focus on what we had to do next because we were so excited. It seemed we were actually at the bottom during the beginning. As a platoon, the events brought us together," said Pent, of Hollywood, Fla. "When we finally realized it wasn't about us anymore, we banded together and that's how we did it."

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