CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- A local celebrity met the Marine Corps challenge recently spending a day at Marine Combat Training Battalion and the Staff Noncommissioned Officer's Academy aboard Camp Geiger.
Because she felt Marines are survivors, Valonda Bruinton, a reporter for Eyewitness News 9, wanted to include the Marine Corps in a series about real-life survivors.
"I work with the Marines all the time covering stories," said Bruinton of Richlands. "I wanted to get a better understanding of what Marines go through. I wanted to know how it feels, and if I could do the things they do."
After being greeted by Sgt. Brandi L. Rebone, an instructor with Fox Company, MCT Bn. of Marion, Ohio, Bruinton quickly donned a pair of camouflage utilities, leather boots and a mock M16-A2 service rifle.
Equipped and ready for the challenges that lay ahead of her, Bruinton slung her rifle over her shoulder, grabbed her gear and climbed into a vehicle headed for the SNCOA drill field.
After some lessons and practice with the position of attention and basic facing movements, Bruinton marched around the drill field with a platoon of students attending the Corporal's Course.
"It was an awesome experience," she said. "I just didn't want to be the one out of step. I didn't want to mess the platoon up."
Throughout the day Bruinton had the opportunity to participate in a one-mile hike with a company of students, throw a series of practice grenades, run the Confidence Course and enjoy a Meal Ready to Eat.
One of the most challenging, yet enjoyable experiences for Bruinton was the close combat training provided by MCT Bn. instructors.
"Sergeant Rebone was really throwing me around. I kept landing on my left side, but I didn't say anything because I didn't want anyone to know it hurt a little," she continued. "That was the best part for me. It was a good feeling training with the other Marines around me doing the same thing."
Bruinton soon realized how long a day-in-the-life of a Marine can be. Looking tired, she headed back to the vehicle to grab her gear and "cammie" her face ready for her last objective -- a patrol in the woods with a squad of Marines.
"I took patrolling seriously and tried to stay up with everybody. It was heaven when we were told to lie down and cover the right side. I was so tired. I would do it all again in a heartbeat," she said.
"Watching and reporting about Marines is one thing but going through it is completely different. I knew it was hard to do but I didn't know how hard. Now I have a renewed respect for the Marines. I felt like a real Marine when someone yelled 'Oorah!' at me. It was really cool," she concluded.