Once recruits get through the Crucible, a punishing test of their metal and mind, they become Marines.
Dalton Beals, a 19-year-old from Pennsville, New Jersey, died before he could make it through his final training June 4 on Parris Island. How that happened isn’t clear.
In the wake Beals’ death, the Crucible, in place for 25 years, is now undergoing its own test.
A Marine Corps Recruit Depot spokesperson told The Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette this week that a safety investigation board, led by a senior officer, will look specifically at safety-related elements involved with the Crucible.
The board will be made up of a panel of subject-matter experts.
“The recruit training process is iterative, and necessary changes are made to the training process when they are identified via staff feedback or investigation findings,” said Capt. Bryan McDonnell, a MCRD spokesman.
Since 1996, every male and female recruit at Parris Island who has earned a place in the Marine Corps has had to complete the grueling endurance course at Page Field, a wet and buggy patch of former airfield on the southeast corner of the depot.
They march 48 miles over 54 hours, carrying 45 pounds of gear through 36 stations and problem-solving exercises. They operate on four to six hours of sleep and limited nourishment.
The Crucible takes the training that recruits received in the previous 11 weeks and puts it to the test in conditions meant to simulate war. Once they finish, recruits earn their Eagle, Globe and Anchor emblem and officially become Marines.
On the day Beals died, two other recruits were treated for heat-related illness.
The cause of Beals’ death has not been released. Autopsy results are not expected to be available for several weeks.
In addition to studying Crucible safety, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service is investigating the cause of Beals’ death, McDonnell said.
Beals graduated in 2020 from Pennsville Memorial High School, where he competed in football, wrestling and track in high school before signing up to serve his country.
The news of his death broke the hearts of his family and friends in his hometown, a community of about 12,000 residents.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced that flags would be flown at half-staff at all state buildings there Wednesday
“His recent passing is a tragic loss for New Jersey and for our country,” the governor said. “Pfc. Beals had his whole life and his career ahead of him, and I know that he would have continued to serve with distinction, honor and bravery. Our thoughts and prayers are with Pfc. Beals’ family and friends during this painful time.”