MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON. Calif. -- Reconnaissance Marine is a title earned through going through some of the most physically demanding training in the Marine Corps.
Recon Marines must be able to provide reconnaissance and surveillance of enemy objectives and also be able to perform as the basic infantryman.
A part of the recon family often overlooked is the Special Amphibious Reconnaissance Corpsmen who bear the weight and responsibility of keeping the Marines safe and keeping up. A SARC is a Navy corpsman who's gone through a pipeline of training to earn the title of SARC. Their schooling consists of Basic Reconnaissance Course, Amphibious Reconnaissance Course, Marine Combatant Diver's Course, Basic Airborne Course and the Special Operations Combat Medic Course.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Jason Bennett, a Special Amphibious Reconnaissance Corpsman in training serving with Alpha Company, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, pushes himself while training to join the ranks of these elite sailors.
Bennett, 29, from Carrollton, Texas, has completed two of the physically and mentally demanding courses needed to become a SARC, and said he can't wait to attend the next.
"The training is definitely a butt-kicker, but it is worth it," Bennet said. "I get to train with some really great Marines that never quit, and they accept me into their teams because I've done the exact same training as them."
The training is unique because of the intense level of training and the fact they go through every type of training the Marines go through, said Chief Petty Officer Daniel Lang, the leading chief petty officer for Headquarters and Support Company and Force Reconnaissance Company, 1st Recon Bn. If the Marines are doing shooting packages or jump packages, so are the SARCs he added.
SARCs bring new capabilities to the units they attach to, not just because of the 14 months of medical training they complete on how to save and sustain life during Special Operations Combat Medic Course, but because of the arduous combat training they go through.
"These sailors have to be able to pull their own slack when they are working alongside the Marines. So, yes, the training is tough. But when they complete it, they know they can hold any billet in the team that a recon Marine can," said Lang, 39, from St. Paul, Minn. "Will a SARC walk point in a team? Probably not. But can he? Absolutely, and that's what they bring to units, the ability to do anything the team needs them to."
Being a SARC isn't something that any sailor can do, and Bennett said he learned that the hard way. He has seen people quit while training because how hard some of the training has been on their bodies.
"The training usually always weeds them out, because most people aren't mentally prepared for this level of training," Lang said. "It takes an iron will to do what these men do. Being strong helps, but I'd take smart with a never give up attitude over strength any day."
Bennett has a long way to go with the three courses he has to complete to become a SARC, but he said he knows that he will make it and become a SARC.
"Quitting isn't even an option after I have come this far," Bennett said. "I've worked too hard to just drop my pack."
He can't wait for the day when he can finally say he has earned the title of SARC, Bennett added.
"The feelings you have when you become a SARC is different for everyone, but that feeling of accomplishment and belonging I felt when I did has never faded," Lang said. "That's something that's going to be with me forever."