Dispatch: A Pioneering Recruit Leads the Way in the Crucible

Crucible Day One-1392

Katey Hogan, a recruit from Platoon 3241, Lima Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, during Day Two of the Crucible, a 54-hour field training exercise that is the culminating event of Marine recruit training, April 21, 2021. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.

Katey Hogan was about 36 hours into her Crucible when her body started failing.

Since the 54-hour training event had kicked off, Hogan and roughly 400 other recruits from Lima Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, had already logged about a marathon’s distance while carrying 40-pound packs.

As the platoon guide for the all-female Platoon 3241, Hogan displayed a positive attitude and perseverance that served as an example for other recruits to follow. But as the afternoon faded on a second exhausting day of the Crucible, so did Hogan’s bright disposition.

She limped badly for a mile or two on one of the last hikes of the day before finally reaching an obstacle where a Navy corpsman examined her. A rolled-up trouser leg revealed a swollen, pink left knee. The Crucible had taken its toll.

marine crucible

Marine recruit Katey Hogan leads her platoon on a run. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.

Marine recruit Katey Hogan leads her platoon on a run. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.

The recruits had several challenges and a lot more distance to cover before they would bed down for a couple of hours ahead of the final 9-mile hike up the Reaper, a 700-foot-tall hill and the final gut check recruits have to endure to officially earn the title “Marine.” As Hogan lay there being treated, she worried about what was to come.

The next morning, in the drizzly dark of Camp Pendleton’s Edson Range, Katey Hogan was defiant. Tears flowed as she protested the order to carry a light assault pack instead of her full ruck on the final Reaper hike. Recruits tried to calm Hogan as Sgt. Stephanie Fahl firmly reminded her how a drill instructor’s authority works.

“I really wanted to hike with that main pack,” she said. “I wanted to show everyone that I could push through and earn my title the right way.”

Ultimately, Hogan’s health — and that of several other injured Lima recruits — took priority. They completed the Reaper hike with light assault packs and earned their Marine emblems — the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor — without injuring themselves further.

Katey Hogan

Marine recruit Katey Hogan in Platoon 3241’s squad bay. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.

Marine recruit Katey Hogan. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.

“The minute Staff Sgt. [Amber] Staroscik put it in my hand, I had so much pride because I made it up there, and I was one of the first females to make it up that Reaper,” Hogan said. “I feel like I set the example and showed people that, even though I was hurting, I pushed through. And hopefully I motivated them to keep pushing as well.”

By pushing through her knee injury and finishing strong, Hogan exemplified the never-quit attitude the Crucible is designed to instill in Marines. And for that, her Marine veteran father couldn’t be prouder.

“I just can’t say enough about my daughter,” Britton Hogan told Coffee or Die Magazine at Lima Company’s graduation ceremony May 6. “I’m very excited for Katey and all the girls of Platoon 3241 because they proved what they can do out here.”


This article first appeared in the Summer 2021 print edition of Coffee or Die Magazine as “A Leader’s Load on the Crucible.”

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Ethan E. Rocke is a contributor and former senior editor for Coffee or Die Magazine. Born in Los Angeles and raised in California’s Sierra Nevada foothills, Ethan is a New York Times bestselling author and award-winning photographer and filmmaker. He served as an infantryman with the 101st Airborne Division, deploying once to Kosovo for peacekeeping operations. After leaving the Army, he joined the US Marine Corps as a “storyteller of Marines,” serving in Okinawa and the Asia-Pacific region with III Marine Expeditionary Force and at the Marine Corps Motion Picture and Television Liaison Office in Los Angeles, where he served as a consultant on dozens of television shows and documentaries and several feature films. His work has been published in Maxim Magazine, American Legion Magazine and many others. He is co-author of The Last Punisher: A SEAL Team THREE Sniper’s True Account of the Battle of Ramadi.”
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