Video by Joseph Andrew Lee

SAN DIEGO—The last few hours before getting on the bus to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot may be the most stressful moments of a young Marine recruit’s indoctrination into the Corps.

Fortunately, instead of drill instructors to greet them the moment they step off their airplane in San Diego, Marine recruits are greeted by the warm smiles of USO volunteers there to provide them with the last few hours of civilian comforts they’ll enjoy for 13 weeks.

USO Neil Ash Airport Center Director and retired Marine Sgt. Maj. Bobby Woods knows the reception process, having trained recruits at the depot in three different decades.

“The great thing about Marine Corps Recruit Depot is that from the time they are recruited until they complete their combat training the recruits fall under the same command,” Woods said, “so the drill instructors and the recruiters all work together to make sure that each recruit has the greatest opportunity of graduating.”

“We often [told] them that when they leave the USO that night, their lives will be changed forever.”