“Spelling bees are basically memory exercises,” Marino explained on the last day of the tournament. “We’re all familiar with Kim’s Games, used by our Recon and Sniper Marines, and this is basically the same thing. I thought it would be a great chance to get the Corps some publicity in an area that doesn’t involve physical activity, and show people that we have strong minds in addition to healthy bodies.”
He then watched Staff Sgt. Alex Drost, an avid runner and weight-lifter who has competed in several amateur mixed-martial arts tournaments, struggling on-stage to spell the word “radio.”
While Headquarters Marine Corps initially joked that all the spelling bee would prove is that Marines can’t spell “defeat,” they grew more alarmed when it also proved that Marines can’t spell “Marines.” After several days they ordered the contest prematurely shut down.