The average person going through Marine Corps recruit training spends about three months at the depot before earning the title of Marine.
But for some unfortunate souls, it takes longer.
Lance Cpl. Caleb Eudy was one of those delayed recruits.
It was about a month into recruit training at the Parris Island, South Carolina, depot in 2016 when Eudy received unfortunate news: He had stage 3 Hodgkin lymphoma.
The cancer news alone would have broken most people ― not to mention the horror of receiving that news while dealing with Marine recruit training stress. But Eudy would persevere and fight his cancer.
After 956 days as a recruit, he became a Marine receiving his Eagle, Globe and Anchor during a hallowed ceremony April 13 following completion of the 54-hour crucible.
“I just got told I had cancer, you know. How do you react to that?” Eudy said in a Marine video. “Most people don’t know what that’s like, ever. ... Do you say thank you? Do you just stand there and stare? Do you cry?"
Recruits who are injured or have medical issues are sometimes sent to a physical conditioning platoon aboard the depots where they can heal and get back in shape to continue recruit training. It’s a bit of purgatory, as those individuals are stuck in training limbo awaiting to complete boot camp and move forward in their careers.
Eudy didn’t spend all 956 days on the island. He was sent back to a reserve artillery battery in Huntsville, Alabama, near his hometown. While he was being treated for cancer, he also fought the Marine Corps on a medical separation.
Eudy battled his cancer for nearly two years before it finally went into complete remission, allowing him the chance to step foot again aboard Parris Island.
In a Marine video, Eudy said the last 956 days were the “best days” of his life.
Patrick Vega’s sudden death while at the San Diego, California, recruit depot triggered an investigation and now a whirlwind of changes across recruit training.
“Cancer took away everything, but it gave me everything,” he said.
“It took away my mind, my body, my spirit. But then, it gave me everything," and taught him to value the important things in life.
But he says the Corps got him through the cancer and gave him the “mindset” that he can do anything.
Because Eudy already has spent a large chunk of his enlistment contract as a recruit, he will sign a new five-year contract for aviation maintenance, according to Warrant Officer Bobby J. Yarbrough, a Marine spokesman at Parris Island, South Carolina.
Eudy is set to graduate recruit training April 26 with Charlie Company.