GREAT LAKES, Illinois | Sailors are some of the most highly-trained people on the planet, according to Navy officials, and this training requires highly-dedicated instructors.

At Recruit Training Command, otherwise known the Navy’s “bootcamp,” hard-charging, professional Navy instructors provide the fleet with sailors who possess the basic skills necessary for Naval service.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Darren Marks, a native of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, is an instructor at RTC, who trains and mentors the future of the fleet.

“I enjoy seeing the product I put out and making an impact on the fleet," Marks said.

Instructors are experts in the subject matter they teach, and they provide cutting-edge technical training that transforms civilians into mission-ready sailors.

Marks, a 2011 graduate of Northridge High School, credits success as an instructor to many of the lessons learned growing up in Tuscaloosa.

“I learned that southern hospitality takes you a long way,” Marks said.

In 1994, RTC Great Lakes became the Navy's only recruit training facility. The mission of RTC is to transform civilians into smartly disciplined, physically fit, basically trained Sailors who are ready for follow-on training and service to the fleet while instilling in them the highest standards of Honor, Courage, and Commitment.

Recruit training involves a change in the mental and physical capacity of the new recruit. From the first day at RTC through graduation day when new sailors board the bus to depart, recruits find themselves in a whirl of activity. Every recruit entering the Navy today will remember RTC as their introduction to Navy life.

Boot camp is approximately eight weeks and all enlistees into the U.S. Navy begin their careers at the command. Their basic training curriculum, is comprised of five core competencies; Firefighting & Damage Control, Seamanship, Watch Standing, and Physical Fitness. Through a Hands-on Learning approach, recruits ‘train how they fight’ and receive critical warfighting skills during the Sailor development process. The command consists of more than 1,100 staff members, with an average of 6,000 recruits in training at any time.

A key element of the Navy the nation needs is tied to the fact that America is a maritime nation, and that the nation’s prosperity is tied to the ability to operate freely on the world’s oceans. More than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water; 80 percent of the world’s population lives close to a coast; and 90 percent of all global trade by volume travels by sea.

Marks plays an important role in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of National Defense Strategy.

“Our priorities center on people, capabilities and processes, and will be achieved by our focus on speed, value, results and partnerships,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. “Readiness, lethality and modernization are the requirements driving these priorities.”

Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community and career, Marks is most proud of earning three Navy and Marie Corps Achievement Medals.

“I’m proud of receiving these awards because it shows the hard work that I do,” Marks said.

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied-upon assets, Marks and other instructors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.

“Serving in the Navy is about being a part of something bigger than myself," Marks said. "It's built the foundation coming from a small town and it’s given me character ever since."

Writer Jerry Jimenez is a Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class for the the U.S. Navy Office of Community Outreach.