How tough is your job? For most of us, eight or nine hours at work is more than enough. But some put in much longer hours, working around the clock. WTOC spent the day following a United States Marine with one of the toughest jobs in the corps. Staff Sergeant Brian Akers spends 16 hours a day, seven days a week, as a senior drill instructor. He makes marines on Parris Island.
At four in the morning, Staff Sergeant Akers is getting ready for another long day on the job.
"Usually, you put in an easy 16 to 17 hours," he says.
Akers is a senior drill instructor at the Marine Corps Recruit Training Depot on Parris Island. He works seven days a week, three months at a time, turning new recruits into full-fledged marines.
At 4:30am, he arrives at work, changes, and goes over the schedule before waking the recruits. At 5am, the lights go on. Staff Sergeant Akers and two other drill instructors get recruits moving. After a quick meal, it's time to work it off with drill practice. It's not even 6am, and his day is already well underway.
"There's no coffee break, there's no changeover time," Akers tells us. "Just as soon as your foot comes through the door, be ready to work."
Akers and his recruits will spend hours marching; the long hours take a toll.
"Your feet constantly hurt from being on them," he says. "You never really sit down in front of a recruit, and you're always around the recruits, so you're constantly standing, moving, running."
By 10am, Akers is more than five hours into his day. He pushes on through the late morning and early afternoon.
"We push out what the Marines are about, which is, we are warriors. But also we have to be a teacher/mentor just to take care of the recruits, like they were your own," he says.
At 4pm, the recruits are fitted for their new uniforms. It's a break for the drill instructors, but once they sit down, it also makes them realize just how tired they are.
"I fell asleep eating dinner before," says Akers. "I fell asleep on the couch watching TV just as soon as I sat down."
That's when he gets home. The drill instructors take turns staying overnight with recruits. It's hard when you have a family.
"My youngest, as soon as he sees me putting on a uniform or something, he starts crying and tells me no, but he understands," says Akers. "I think he's getting to a point where he understands it's what I do. It won't be forever."
By 6pm, the workday is coming to an end for most people, but not drill instructors. While the recruits are at dinner Staff Sergeant Akers tackles paperwork.
Akers sums it up: "You've got 62 kids that you look after, making sure they're all fed, they all make their appointments on time, they all get their proper training."
After recruits have cleaned up for the night, Akers hands out mail. By 9pm, it's lights out, and Staff Sergeant Akers is wrapping up his day. At 9:30pm, he's out the door, finally on his way home.
He'll spend time with his wife, his eight-year-old daughter, and his two-year-old son.
"It's good to know when you go home, the way my family is, they let me know that they appreciate what I do," he says.
Akers admits he has a tough profession, but one he willingly chose.
"You can't even classify it as a job," he says. "It's more of a way of life."
Another tough part of the job for Staff Sergeant Akers is finding time for things he enjoys, like hunting and fishing. As his training with recruits progresses, he says he's able to occasionally take a little time for himself.