As boot camp training comes to an end, new Marines will finally earn their eagle, globe and anchor, but they will also walk away from MCRD San Diego with stories of those before them, who truly embodied the traits of a hero.
One of those heroes was Cpl. Larry Harris Jr. — a mortar fire team leader credited with braving enemy fire to evacuate a wounded Marine during a firefight in Helmand Province, Afghanistan in 2010.
The final grueling tests of boot camp include an event known as the Crucible, conducted at Camp Pendleton. Recruits complete at IED course in the final three days of camp — that course will now be renamed after Harris, a Silver Star recipient.
“Every Marine who goes through the Crucible on the West Coast will hear Cpl. Harris’ citation, his sacrifice and how he served the Marine Corps and the country to save his fellow Marines,” Capt. Matthew Finnerty said.
According to Harris’ citation – his team members with 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines began taking “heavy small arms and machine gun fire from about 40 nearby fighters.” Harris repeatedly braved incoming fire to ‘suppress’ the enemy, as his squad withdrew. When one of his machine gunners was shot in the leg, Harris ran to him and moved him quickly to safety to prepare for medical evacuation.
“As he moved through a vineyard while carrying the wounded Marine, Cpl. Harris struck an improvised explosive device, absorbing the majority of the explosion with his body,” his citation states. Cpl Harris died from his injuries, but saved the life of the wounded Marine.
The Marine Corps Times reports that the IED awareness course aboard Camp Pendleton is the “first-time recruits are exposed to the types of blasts they could encounter in a combat environment.”
Finnerty said, “The layout for the event itself is a trail with a number of small structures built along the way with a number of practice IED’s… There’s smoke, they have sounds to signify when one would go off.”
As they make their way through the Crucible during these final days of boot camp, the new Marines will no doubt have people like Harris on their minds –and hopefully leave there knowing what it means to be a Marine.
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