SAN DIEGO – Most everyone sets goals for their lives. Marine recruits are no different, and many enter training hoping to earn a leadership position. However, goals sometimes take more time to achieve than expected and for one recruit, it took most of boot camp to get within reach of a leadership billet.
Throughout recruit training, Marine Corps Pvt. Zachery T. Douthitt, Platoon 3242, Lima Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, strived to be a squad leader or guide. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until the later stages of training that his drill instructors noticed his upstanding character.
“He’s been a good recruit this whole cycle,” said Sgt. Alanser Uruo, the platoon’s senior drill instructor. “He always puts out in all the events, whether it’s physically training, drill or guided discussions.”
Out of a platoon of 60 recruits, only four are selected as squad leaders and one as platoon guide.
At 5 feet 4 inches, Douthitt, a 20-year-old native of Muncie, Ind., is one of the smaller recruits in his platoon. He also has a calm demeanor and is soft spoken. While that didn’t make him a bad recruit, it did make it harder for him to get noticed.
“I always tried to show leadership characteristics,” said Douthitt. “I don’t know why I wasn’t picked. I hope to get recognized after boot camp to show I did give everything I have.”
Uruo said that it’s possible for Douthitt to pick up a leadership role in the Corps if he does three things: “All he has to do is stand out, be more vocal [and] take more initiative.”
Although Douthitt was a good recruit, Uruo said, it took until the second and third phase of recruit training to notice his outstanding positive and humble character.
“If I wanted to know how the platoon was doing, I would ask him. That’s how much confidence I have in him,” said Uruo. “The way he presents himself, his mannerisms, motivates other recruits. He has really good character and is a humble recruit.”
As the weeks passed in training, Uruo said Douthitt’s positivity and motivation became obvious, particularly when he would consistently provide input during recruit classes and direct fellow recruits to improve.
However, Uruo said, by that time it was too late in the game to switch up the leadership roster.
Fellow recruits called Douthitt a positive light and someone who always helped others during stressful times.
“He would help me when I was struggling,” said Pvt. Justin E. Duncan, one of Douthitt’s platoon mates. “I remember telling him that I didn’t know what I was doing here and he told me basically to keep my eyes on the prize of becoming a Marine.”
Although Douthitt did not reach his goal of holding a leadership billet in recruit training, he said it hasn’t discouraged him from continuing to excel. Douthitt believes he can earn it during his time in the Marine Corps.
“He’s been that positive person that people have looked up to,” said Duncan. “Yeah he’s not a squad leader now but if he continues the way he is there is no doubt in my mind he’s going to accomplish big things.”
Douthitt said that not being picked as squad leader didn’t affect him; it instead drove him to try harder to help others and to be someone to look up to.
“I’m not going to let my efforts stop here in boot camp,” said Douthitt. “I’m going to keep trying to do my best.”
Douthitt is the son and brother of former Marines, and, he said, he plans on passing on to his kids the values of honor and courage he learned in recruit training.