I am 27 years old. My home
town is Bristol, Tenn. I will
have been in the Marine Corps
nine years in January. I am married
with two daughters.
Before becoming a drill instructor [DI], I was a helicopter mechanic. I was a Cobra and Huey
mechanic on the flight line. I
worked on engines, rotary systems
and gear boxes. I was stationed at
Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Air
Station. And I did two tours in Iraq
and one in Afghanistan.
I became a drill instructor two
years ago and have taken five platoons through the cycle at Marine
Corps Recruit Depot [MCRD] San
Although I am at MCRD San
Diego, I went through recruit training at Parris Island, S.C. I was honored to be selected as Drill Instructor
of the Year for 2013.
I am currently the Chief Drill
Instructor in the STC, the Special
Training Company. It falls under
the support battalion because what
we do is we take the guys who get
injured in training, we rehabilitate
them back up and send them back
to the regular training companies.
We also get those who are not as
physically fit as the others. So we put
them through the physical conditioning platoon to get them ramped
up and ready to meet the training.
I started that job about three
months ago. Previously, I had been
a regular DI.
We can get recruits at every stage.
We can get them at the beginning,
they could be in receiving barracks,
if they get sick. We can get them up
to … when they are getting ready to
start the Crucible [the final test in recruit training] and they get injured.
We treat them all the same, because
the mission for us is to get them physically ready to continue the training.
There is a process, whenever they
get physically fit they pretty much go
back to a training company that is on
whatever training day they were at.
I have one more year left on the
Depot. Then I expect to go back to
being a helicopter mechanic again,
to go back to the fleet. I definitely
intend to make the Corps a career.
The military is something I wanted
to do since I was young. I knew it
was a steady life, and either if I did
only four years or 20 years it, would
set me up for success in the future,
to have that on my background.
It’s a privilege to be a drill instructor, because you get to put your personal fingerprint on everyone who
comes through the training pipeline.
You get to input your personality, experiences, leadership traits and your
background into those who were civilians and now are going to become
Marines. And they will remember
you for the rest of their life.
Boot camp is now 12 weeks of
training. The main thing I try to
impart to my recruits probably
would be our core values, because if
you have a strong foundation, you
can build a bigger house upon that
foundation. Those core values are
honor, courage and commit-
ment. The quality of the recruits we
now are getting are just the same as
all the others. We’re taking
America’s finest and turning them
into physically trained Marines.
Despite an epidemic of obesity
in the nation, what’s coming in is
pretty good. I go to the initial
strength test every Friday for the
pickup companies to see if there
are any failures that could be coming my way. The failure rate is very,
very low. The Marine Corps definitely is recruiting the most athletic and physically fit guys
that they can.
WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG SEAPOWER / FEBRUARY 2014
GySgt Michael H. Wampler
CHIEF DRILL INSTRUCTOR
SPECIAL TRAINING COMPANY
MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO
GySgt Michael H. Wampler, Drill
Instructor of the Year, right, reaffirms
the Oath of Enlistment while being
meritoriously promoted by BGen
James W. Bierman, commanding gen-
eral, Marine Corps Recruit Depot San
Diego and Western Recruiting Region,
aboard the depot, Dec. 12.