Seven Years Later, A Return to MCRD Parris Island

January 22, 2017

Nearly seven years ago, I traveled to Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) Parris Island, SC, for Number One Son’s graduation from boot camp and into the US Marine Corps. Neither he nor I ever thought that we would return.

But we did. Here is what I shared with you seven years ago.

This time, it was for my nephew’s graduation. An interesting tidbit; he graduated from the same recruit battalion and platoon as Number One Son.

19 January, we arrived at MCRD Parris Island for Family Day. The festivities started at the (civilian) God awful time of 7AM for the recruit’s motivational run. This is pretty much just a show for the families, and is a fairly short run, by USMC standards. But it is the first opportunity to see your recruit, even if it is a fleeting moment. At about 9:30AM, we all gather in the All Weather Training Facility. It is here that we watch a film which condenses 13 weeks of training into about 20 minutes. Then, after an interminable wait (remember, the military hardly ever starts anything on time), the recruits enter the facility where we are introduced to the Drill Instructors, reminded of Family Day rules, and on-base liberty begins.

Chaos reigns while family and recruits seek each other out in the massive crowd where laughing, crying, and hugging is everywhere you look.

Our recruit now takes us on a tour of MCRD. First stop, his barracks. His brand new barracks.

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Kind of looks like a college dormitory, doesn’t it? Let’s take a look inside.

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Looks like pretty much every “dorm” you’ve seen, right? Neat and tidy, everything in its place.

They even have showers, sinks, toilets and urinals in their “dorm.” And when they are standing at the urinals, they are reminded to check their stream to make sure that they are drinking enough water with this handy chart:

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Number One Son and I took a good look around the barracks, as this is not the same one that housed him during his time at MCRD. We made a mental note to find his old barracks.

After the visit to the barracks, we headed to Marine Corps Exchange, which has everything a Marine needs (insignia, clothes, boots, and so on) and everything visitors need (souvenirs, beer, alcohol, gifts, food, and so on). Number One Son picked up some Challenge Coins and I bought a new license plate frame.

Number One Son and I remembered that his old barracks was behind the Marine Corps Exchange, so we went looking for it while the others walked to the Visitors Center, as lunch was being delivered to us.

We found his old barracks:

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And his old parade deck:

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Number One Son was not happy. “Do you know how much time I spent on that parade deck? Now look at it.” He was, IMHO, really upset. I suppose the equivalent would be discovering that your childhood home had been torn down.

On our way to meet up with the rest of the family, we talked with an Army veteran that is working in a civilian role on MCRD. He and Number One Son had a really nice chat about where they’d been, what they’d done. I think that the little conversation lifted Number One Son’s spirits. Plus, for me, it was extremely cool to listen to two vets talk about their experiences.

After an excellent lunch (thanks Laurie), it was time for a few pictures.

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A new Marine and an alumni (say hello to Number One Son).

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And one of just the new Marine, my nephew:

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More touring of MCRD followed, before the Marine had to report to the parade deck to practice their graduation ceremony.

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The sand pit. This is where “Individual Training (IT)” takes place. From what Number One Son told me, you don’t want to be in the pit. I trust his judgement. It’s also the only place where the Drill Instructors cannot touch you. But even with that limitation, recruits do feel their wrath.

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The Yellow Footprints. When the new recruits disembark from the bus, in the dead of the night, they are required to stand on a set of footprints. This begins their welcome into the Marine Corps.

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New recruits. Notice the high visibility belts they are wearing. That immediately signals to all that these men have just arrived at MCRD. And, according to Number One Son, signals to all to keep an eye on them during the first week at MCRD, as this is when they are most apt to have issues.

Next time, graduation and fast food.