HomeCentennial Celebration100 facts about Parris Island
Marine Corps Recruit Depot

 

Marine Corps Recruit Depot

Eastern Recruiting Region

Parris Island, South Carolina

Parris Island has a rich history. Here are 100 facts about Parris Island to get you spun up.


  1. Parris Island is approximately four miles long and three miles wide totaling 8,095 acres with 3,262 acres of dry land. It ranges from sea level at its lowest point to 21 feet above sea level at its highest point on Horse Island. Parris Island contains a variety of habitats from forests, salt shrub thickets, brackish and saltwater marshes, five creeks, small and large ponds, and more than 100 archaeological and cultural sites.

  2. The first inhabitants of Parris Island were American Indians. From about 6,000 B.C. to A.D. 500, these Stone Age people traveled throughout the southeast staying along the coast for only part of the year. Starting around A.D. 500, they began to settle along the coast in semi-permanent communities. The American Indians lived by gathering food, hunting game, fishing, harvesting shellfish and some subsistence farming. Then, in the 16th century their simple lifestyle was totally disrupted by the arrival of Europeans looking for riches, slaves and settlement sites. When Europeans arrived, American Indians of the Mississippian culture inhabited Parris Island.

  3. Parris Island and Port Royal Harbor have long been associated with the European settlement of North America. Twenty-two years after Columbus made his first landfall in the Caribbean, Spanish seafarers were exploring the southeastern coast. The Spanish called the region Florida and in 1521, Spanish vessels entered the sound off Parris Island and captured Indian slaves. In 1526, the Spanish named the region around Parris Island, Santa Elena (St. Helena). Later that year, a settlement located somewhere along the Carolina coast failed and the Spanish ceased their colonial ventures in the southeast until the 1560s when French incursions alerted them back to Santa Elena.

  4. The qualities of Port Royal Sound, the deepest natural harbor south of New York, were well known to the Spanish and other seafarers. It offered a protected, deep water anchorage and access to major rivers.  Also just north of the sound, the Gulf Stream and prevailing winds made for an easier transit back to Europe. Besides providing a safe haven for their vessels, the Spanish could also employ the sound as a base to attack rival nation's fleets.

  5. A threat to the Spanish domain on Parris Island came from a French squadron led by Jean Ribaut. Jean Ribaut was searching for possible settlement sites for French Huguenots (Protestants), who wished to leave their Catholic dominated homeland. Ribaut made landfall at the St. John’s River, then sailed north, marking the area with stone columns. One is located near the St. John’s River and the other is on Dawes Island in the Board River, claiming the region for his king, Charles IX. In May 1562, after exploring the coast northward from the St. John's River, Ribaut arrived at Santa Elena, which he named Port Royal. Impressed with the natural qualities of the harbor, Ribaut elected to place an outpost on what is today, Parris Island.

  6. Having arrived at Port Royal Sound in May 1562, Jean Ribaut constructed a small fortification known as Charlesfort on Parris Island. The fort was to serve as an outpost until Ribaut could return from France with more men and supplies. When Ribaut sailed away in June, he left behind a garrison of 26 men. Though he had promised to return within six months, political unrest in France delayed Ribaut. The men at Charlesfort, suffering under the control of a harsh captain, mutinied, killed their commander, constructed a vessel and sailed for France. After a harrowing journey, they were rescued off of the coast of France.

  7. Charlesfort Destroyed - Learning of Charlesfort in May 1564, King Philip II of Spain sent Manrique de Rojas to destroy the French outpost. Upon his arrival, Rojas found a French boy who had remained with the Indians when the garrison had left. The boy led Rojas to Charlesfort where they found the Spaniards had entirely demolished all traces of the French fort. Afterwards, Rojas sailed for Cuba taking with him a stone column the French had erected. Rojas' ships barely missed a second French fleet on its way to Florida, where they would attempt another colony.

  8. Santa Elena and Fort San Felipe - After the destruction of the French at Fort Carolina and with the French removed as an immediate threat, Pedro Menendez, in April 1566, led a naval force to Santa Elena (Port Royal Sound), where he planned to locate his capital city. A small fortification known as Fort San Salvador was initially constructed on Parris Island, and then a month later, Captain Juan Pardo arrived with a company of 250 soldiers and built Fort San Felipe. For the next two years, Pardo carried out expeditions that took the Spanish into the Smoky Mountains in search of a route to Mexico.

  9. In the fall of 1568, the first 225 colonists arrived at the Santa Elena settlement on present-day Parris Island. Soon, 40 houses were constructed around Fort San Felipe. The new community served as the capital of Spanish Florida. The people endured many hardships while they worked to make their community a success. Santa Elena suffered from chronic food shortages, epidemics and deteriorating relations with the Indians. In 1571, part of Fort San Felipe in Santa Elena was accidentally burned along with vital food supplies. The fort was rebuilt, but the town's troubles continued.

  10. In 1574, Governor Menendez, the Adelantado of Florida, died, and his heirs fought among themselves for his title, rank, and property. While the question of succession was being handled by officials in Spain, relations with the Indians worsened. The Spanish practice of demanding food and tribute from the local villages drove the Indians into rebellion. During the summer of 1576, open warfare broke out when the Indians massacred two Spanish patrols and attacked Santa Elena. The town was abandoned, and the settlers sought refuge inside Fort San Felipe. The Indians burned the houses and surrounded the fort. The remaining Spaniards fled to their vessels and left Santa Elena for St. Augustine after deciding resistance was useless. The capital was moved to St. Augustine and though the Spanish re-established their presence on Parris Island the following year, the capital had remained at St. Augustine. 

  11. After Santa Elena’s abandonment in 1587, Spanish missionaries and soldiers continued a sporadic presence with the native people at Port Royal. In 1663, explorer William Hilton visited an Indian town on Parris Island, “St. Ellens.”  It was surrounded by cornfields, orchards, and vineyards. Dwellings circled an enormous council house beside a large wooden cross and “sentinel house” built of sawn planks, nails, and spikes. The Indians spoke some Spanish and shaved the crown of their heads like the visiting Spanish friars who visited here. In about 1670, the town was burned by Westo Indians and was never rebuilt.

  12. Once Charlestown was established, explorer Henry Woodward went to work. Left behind by Robert Sanford on a previous expedition, he followed in the footsteps of the Spanish explorers and soon made trade connections with the Indians living in western Carolina. Woodward contributed much to the English settlement of South Carolina and Beaufort. Scientist, linguist, and explorer, he established South Carolina's trade with the native peoples - the first source of revenue for the province - and was the forefather of several lowcountry families, including the Barnwells, Elliotts, and Rhetts.

  13. Port Royal Sound, the finest natural harbor south of New York, was fortified early in the war by Confederates to deny its use as a naval station by the U.S. Navy. Two forts, Walker on Hilton Head and Beauregard on Bay Point, guarded the harbor. In late October 1861, a fleet of 75 vessels under Flag Officer Samuel Francis Du Pont left Hampton Roads, Virginia. After weathering a gale off Cape Fear, North Carolina, the fleet assembled off Port Royal Sound. On November 7, Du Pont took his warships into the harbor, concentrating his cannon fire against Fort Walker. After a four-hour bombardment the Confederates evacuated the forts.

  14. Union Flag Officer Francis Du Pont's victory against the Confederates in 1861 secured Port Royal Sound, providing the Union a base to launch strikes against the Confederacy. The southern defeat also caused the majority of the local white population to flee the Sea Islands, leaving behind their homes, plantations, personal belongings, and slaves.

  15. After the capture of Port Royal Sound in 1861, the northerners established numerous installations on the surrounding Sea Islands. The headquarters, camps, warehouses, an ordnance yard, commissary buildings, stables, prisons, and a hospital for the Army's Department of the South was on Hilton Head where a massive 1000-foot dock stretched into the sound. The Navy placed installations in Station Creek, and both services had complexes at Land’s End on St. Helena. Parris Island held a coaling station for Army transports, and signal towers were established throughout the region. Beaufort became a fortified outpost and served as the Army’s medical and hospital center.

  16. In the 1870's, two lighthouses were built on Parris Island, one at the tip of the island and one in the center. The center light was a unique structure. Every night the lighthouse keeper ran up the lamp from the lens house building to the top of the tower. The lens house is the oldest surviving structure on Parris Island. In 1880, a state quarantine station was established on the site of what is today the depot club. After the Civil War, the U.S. Navy kept vessels in the harbor, but it was not until the 1880s did they begin purchasing land on Parris Island for the establishment of a permanent facility.

  17. Backed by the local community, the state and the navy, Congress agreed to fund a Navy base aboard Parris Island. Among those promoting the scheme and presenting petitions to Congress was Robert Smalls, a former slave and Civil War hero from Beaufort who was now the area’s United States congressman.

  18. At first, the naval station seated at present day Parris Island was to be a coaling station with a storehouse and dock. The base started in 1883 and opened in 1889. In 1892, the construction of a dry dock began. To watch over the construction workers, the first Marines were brought to the island. Work stopped in 1893 when a tremendous hurricane put Parris Island underwater drowning 18 people, washing away many homes and drowning all horses, cattle and other stock.

  19. There are a number of people who can be considered the “father” of the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island. Some give credit to Commandant George F. Elliott, who attempted to establish an Officer’s School of Application and a preliminary school for recruits at New London, Connecticut. The Navy balked at establishing the depot, but Elliott did gain permission to place the school for officers at the old naval station on Parris Island. The school on Parris Island was officially opened in 1909 during Elliott’s last year as Commandant of the Marine Corps.

  20. Sometimes touted as the father of recruit training at Parris Island is Major General George Barnett, who succeeded Biddle as Commandant of the Marine Corps in February 1914. It was under Barnett’s tenure that, in October 1915, the Marines moved the recruit depot from Norfolk back to Parris Island. Though Barnett may have the best claim of all the commandants, the depot would not have been established without help from three politicians from South Carolina, North Carolina and New York who may be the ones truly responsible for the placement of a permanent depot on Parris Island.

  21. In 1912, a new congressman was elected to South Carolina’s 2nd Congressional District, which at that time included Beaufort County. His name was James F. Byrnes (‘BURNS’). Known as “Jimmy” Byrnes, the election launched the career of one of South Carolina and the nation’s most remarkable politicians and statesmen. His election in 1912 found him working closely with the newly elected Woodrow Wilson administration. Part of Wilson’s political strategy centered on working with southern populist leaders such as Jimmy Byrnes and Josephus Daniels, an influential North Carolina newspaperman. Wilson named Daniels as his Secretary of the Navy, and in September 1913, Daniels visited the disciplinary barracks at Parris Island, which at that time was home to 11 Marine Corps officers, 157 Marines and 26 sailors who watched over 471 prisoners. During his visit, Daniels promised local leaders that he would pay personal attention to Parris Island.

  22. Three months after Jimmy Byrnes promised personal attention to Parris Island, he brought the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, to Parris Island. With the backing of both the secretary of the Navy and the assistant secretary of the Navy, Byrnes was able to gain congressional approval to move the recruit depot back to Parris Island from the Norfolk Navy Yard. On April 5, 1915, the secretary of the Navy officially informed Byrnes that a Marine Corps post would be established on Parris Island, and on Oct. 1, 1915, Byrnes announced to his constituents in Beaufort County that 800 Marines would soon be arriving at the old navy yard on Parris Island.

  23. On Oct. 25, 1915, the "Marine Barracks, Port Royal, South Carolina" was established. On Oct. 27, the transport Prairie sailed into Port Royal Sound and disembarked 750 Marines at their new home. The next day, a transfer of property from the Navy to the Marine Corps occurred, and finally, the administration of the Naval Disciplinary Barracks was transferred to the Marines on Nov. 1. Because of the work of numerous individuals, especially the work of Jimmy Byrnes in Congress, the depot “became the first military facility ever assigned to the exclusive use of the Marine Corps.”

  24. In 1915, Recruits began training with the Springfield 1903 bolt action rifle. The rifle had a magazine of five rounds, and had a straight style stock and leather sling. Chambered in the .30 caliber cartridge, designated commonly as 30-06, or “thirty aught-six” the bolt action rifle was the standard issue to Marines in World War I, and would be utilized until 1936, when troops were outfitted with the semi-automatic M1 Garand Rifle.

  25. Although the United States tried to avoid entering World War I in Europe, the military prepared for the possibility. Parris Island’s growth quickly made it one of the largest posts in the Corps. Aside from recruit training facilities, the depot added a Sea School, a Radio and Signal School, a Clerical School, a Cooks and Bakers School, a Pay School, and a Noncommissioned Officers School. The influx of mail to the expanding facility overwhelmed the Port Royal Post Office. To help direct letters, on June 22, 1917, the post was officially renamed “Marine Barracks, Paris Island” using only a single “r.”

  26. On April 6, 1917, the U. S. declared war on Germany. Parris Island then had 835 recruits in training. At the peak of wartime training, 13,286 recruits were on the depot at one time. In response to the massive expansion, the post acquired an additional 6,000 acres in 1918. Until World War I, most of the island was still being farmed. By the war’s end, 46,202 recruits had been transformed into new Marines on Parris Island.

  27. World War I ended Nov. 11, 1918. Recruiting had already slowed, and on that day, only 4,104 recruits were training on Parris Island. Soon, this would decline to about 300 new recruits arriving per month.

  28. After World War I, temporary facilities were removed as the flow of recruits decreased. Longer training cycles were restored, with the average recruit from 1922 to 1928 spending about 12 weeks on the depot. In Washington, D.C., there was pressure to absorb the Marine Corps into the Army. To secure the Corps, Commandant Lejeune re-emphasized the primary role of Marines as a mobile amphibious landing force. Throughout the 1920s, graduates of Parris Island took part in many small actions in Central and South America which came to be known as the “Banana Wars.”  Marines were also deployed to the Pacific, giving rise to the famed China Marines.

  29. They made it twice as nice as Paradise and called it Parris Isle-Recruiters Bulletin, 1920. During the 1920s, the nation enjoyed a time of prosperity and growth. Though downsizing from its wartime expansion, life on Parris Island offered many amenities to make being stationed there enjoyable. In 1923, the Beaufort Gazette called it “the best place in the world to live, the place where you can save a few dollars each month and still have the benefits and pleasure of a city of one hundred thousand inhabitants.”

  30. The wartime expansion of Parris Island carried over to the 1920s making the depot more populated than the towns of Beaufort and Port Royal combined. The base grocery and general merchandise store did more cash business than both towns by 1923, and the island had more paved roads than Beaufort County. Life was more relaxed, and one more person wrote, "They made it twice as nice as Paradise and called it Parris Isle."  The island was hardly "paradise" for the recruits, but the relaxed atmosphere did see the introduction of academic night courses for Marines, the organization of musical organizations, and ladies visiting from Savannah to attend base dances and clubs.

  31. Base recreation in the 1920s included horseback riding, fishing, swimming, bridge parties, teas, piano recitals, and the formation of a Literary and Dramatic Club. Talent shows, movies, and boxing smokers were presented in the Lyceum, and Parris Island's golf course was declared one of the best in the southeast. Intramural events and a ladies' basketball league were organized; a new handball court was constructed; and there were plans to build a new track, baseball and football complex at Lee Field on the east end of the parade field. Holidays were accompanied by sports events and dances, and masquerade parties were held.

  32. Early life on Parris Island revolved around the Civic Center, which included the hostess house, library, school, clubs, the church and a YMCA and Knights of Columbus building. Patrons had the use of a fireplace, a piano, phonograph, cafeteria and soda fountain, and a candy and tobacco counter. Chess and checkers, cards, dominoes, and mahjong games were available, as were dancing classes and dances. The Staff NCO Club was furnished with pool tables, card rooms, accommodations for bathing and sleeping, a barber shop, lunch counter and dance floor.

  33. Off-post liberty for Marines at Parris Island was mostly confined to Savannah or Beaufort. In 1922, the boat trip to Savannah required four hours and a fare of $1 per person or $15 to ferry an automobile. The absence of a nearby larger city was recognized by the Recruiters' Bulletin, which stated that although base life was not bad in 1920, if "this post only had a city in which to make a liberty it would be the best home" in the Corps.

  34. "The Roaring 20s" were banner sports years for the Corps and Parris Island, which adored former Marine Gene Tunney. James Joseph Tunney enlisted in the Marines on July 1, 1918, and expressed an interest in boxing while he trained as a recruit on Parris Island. Tunney attributed much of his success to his Marine Corps training and sported a boxing robe of Marine Corps colors with an emblem on the back.

  35. In the early 1920s, few automobiles were on Parris Island. Horses were prevalent and were subject to depot rules. Post orders directed horses would not be galloped on paved roads or any hard surfaces except in emergencies. The animals were to be ridden with discretion, and "only an emergency can excuse bringing a horse back to the corral 'in a lather.’" But by the mid-1920s, the automobile was changing the appearance and post routine. Base regulations read that salutes were to be rendered to officers in cars, smoking was not permitted in automobiles or while riding motorcycles, and Parris Island's speed limit was set at 15 miles per hour.

  36. Few events have affected Parris Island as much as the completion of the causeway, which connected the island with the mainland. Construction of the mile-long artery, and a section between Horse and Scout Islands, possibly began as early as 1923 and no later than June 1925. The endeavor prompted Leatherneck magazine to boast on several occasions that, upon its completion, "there will be no post equal" to Parris Island in the Corps. It was noted the roadway and its bridge would not only be a significant transportation improvement but would also provide a psychological lift for the Marines. The magazine also reported that with the end of the island's isolation, the Marines would no longer feel "cooped up," but "free," and that the distance to Savannah and Charleston by automobile would be only several hours away.

  37. Labor for building the Parris Island causeway was supplied by some 9,000 men, which included Parris Island naval prisoners, assisted by Beaufort County laborers and workers from elsewhere. Several Beaufort residents recalled that for each day a prisoner worked on the causeway, two days, rather than one, were subtracted from his sentence. Another important feature was the post farm, which had 10 acres in 1923 and was eventually increased to approximately 500 acres the following year when more poultry and livestock were acquired. At one time, milking barn radios played constantly to keep the cows content in order to encourage the production of milk.

  38. By October 1925, the post farm at Parris Island had roughly 500 acres under cultivation, which included 160 acres planted in corn. Additionally, there were 46 cows, 25 calves, about 300 hogs, 2,100 chickens, and 300 laying hens. Aboard the present day depot, “Chicken Farm Road” adjacent to Leatherneck Square pays homage to Parris Island’s agricultural heritage.

  39. Plans for new buildings on Parris Island were made in the 1930s, but the depression postponed the work. During the 1930s, much of the depot closed down, and at one point there were only 180 recruits on hand. Still, life went on at Parris Island as troops used telescopes and binoculars to view the nudist colony on nearby Cat Island. The base had its own radio station, and wild boar hunts were carried out on the island. At the same time, government sponsored work assisted the base as the Works Progress Administration cleared land and built hangers for a new airfield known as Page Field and renovated old buildings and piers.

  40. In October 1929, the nation plummeted into the “Great Depression.”  Reductions in the defense budget led to fear Parris Island would be closed. In partnership with politicians from South Carolina and Georgia, Marine leadership lobbied to keep the facility open. Gaining the support of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Parris Island survived but with scaled back operations. Among these was the closing of several barracks and the Naval Prison. At the leanest training point, 1932, Parris Island processed only 500 recruits for the entire year.

  41. Even in the midst of hard times, growth occurred. Several federal programs were launched to create jobs and stimulate the economy. Parris Island benefited from projects under agencies such as the Works Progress Administration, Civil Works Administration, and the Civilian Conservation Corps. On Dec. 1, 1934, the installation was renamed Recruit Depot Detachment, Marine Barracks, Parris Island.

  42. A Works Progress Initiative aboard the depot was the construction of Page Field. Utilizing civilian laborers, most of the work was done without heavy machinery, and utilized mule teams and hand tools. The field is named after Marine pilot Captain Arthur Page Jr., a Distinguished Flying Cross recipient.

  43. By the late 1930s, world war again seemed imminent. Nazi Germany was expanding, and Imperial Japan had attacked China. On Sept. 3, 1939, war was officially declared in Europe. The United States announced its neutrality on Sept. 5, but, as in the previous world war, the nation prepared for eventual involvement.

  44. On Parris Island, substantial new construction was underway throughout the late 1930s. The last civilian inhabitants, who were still present aboard the depot from its founding in 1915, left in 1938 to make room for expansion. On Aug. 13, 1940, the post was re-designated “Recruit Depot, Marine Barracks, Parris Island.”

  45. Parris Island, planning on new construction in the early 1940s, had assistance from mother nature conducting the clearing operations. In Aug. 11, 1940, a hurricane whose 104-mph wind caused 1.5 million dollars’ worth of damage, swept through the depot. The parade ground was under several feet of water with snakes and alligators swimming over large areas of the island. Still, the only injury suffered was a sprained ankle.

  46. At the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, there were 2,869 recruits in four training battalions and 3,553 permanent personnel on Parris Island. Within two months, the numbers had grown to nearly 15,000 recruits in 13 battalions and over 5,000 supporting personnel. To house this huge influx, 100 Pre-Fabricated (PB) huts and 330 quonset huts were constructed.

  47. World War II caused the largest expansion of recruit training in the history of Parris Island. Immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the recruit age was lowered from 18 to 17, and enlistment periods were extended from three years to the duration of the war. Initially, training was reduced from eight to four weeks before expanding to seven weeks. By war’s end, recruits received 16 weeks of training. Within two months of Pearl Harbor, the numbers of recruits grew from 2,869 in four battalions to over 15,000 in 13 battalions.

  48. During World War II, Page Field was upgraded to a Marine Corps air station. During this time, 200 Women Marine reservists were activated to contribute to the war effort. Besides serving as a training site for glider and fighter pilots, the air station also housed B-25's and trained one of only four Marine Corps bomber squadrons in close air support.

  49. In addition to basic instruction, Parris Island also served as a training site for a number of specialty schools and units, including defense battalions; the 5th Barrage Balloon Squadron; and Marine Glider Group 71. Even Hilton Head was used. Defense battalions trained on Hilton Head at Camp McDougal. It was here that Marines paved the first road on Hilton head, running from Jenkins Island to the Leamington Lighthouse.

  50. Parris Island was a thriving city during World War II. The new post office could not have opened too soon. By June 1944, Parris Island was receiving more than 700,000 outgoing pieces and 2,000,000 incoming letters, plus over 10,000 bags of parcel post each month. The record day of the 1940s was immediately after Japan surrendered, when 47,171 letters were received on one Sunday alone.

  51. Across the street from the post office was the two-story brick post exchange, which was built in 1941. The new PX had a cafeteria and a soda fountain in its two lower wings, and elsewhere a barber and shoe repair shop, photo studio, bank, library, recreation room, major salesrooms, offices, and storerooms. Exchange sales in 1943 were $34 million. That year, Parris Island's population consumed 3.8 million candy bars, 1.4 million pints of milk, and smoked almost 2.8 million packs of cigarettes. The exchange also operated as many as 17 branch facilities in places like Hilton Head, Page Field, the Women's Battalion, the rifle range and the depot Naval hospital.

  52. 1942- Recruits began to train with the M1 Garand rifle aboard Parris Island. Adopted by the U.S. armed forces in 1936, the Garand was hailed as “the greatest implement of battle ever devised” by General George S. Patton. The semi-automatic rifle changed warfare for the individual rifleman. Chambered in .30-06, a distinctive feature of the Garand was the 8-round en-bloc metal clip used to hold rounds, that emitted a distinctive “ping!” when the rounds were expended.

  53. On April 14, 1943, Parris Island was visited by President Franklin Roosevelt. He was the first sitting United States President to visit the Marines at Parris Island, and would be the only sitting president to visit Parris Island until Ronald Reagan in 1986.

  54. In May 1944, construction began on a new post inn to replace the facility opened in 1919. The new structure (Building 293) opened in April 1945. The 30-room guesthouse offered visitors rooms with hardwood floors, a dining room and soda fountain, and a sun deck. Initially, rooms with private baths rented for $10 a week, while rooms with adjoining baths were rented for $7.50 per week. Currently the structure is home to Parris Island’s Staff Judge Advocate’s Office.

  55. During the mid-1940’s on Parris Island, a new headquarters building was constructed as well as a new staff club, a chapel, quarters for bachelor officers, laundry, bakery. The post farm - now with over 2,000 laying hens, 100 cows, turkeys, ducks, geese and hogs - served permanent personnel and their families.

  56. In January 1944, a women reserve battalion arrived at Parris Island, and later that year, 100 female Navy volunteers came aboard to serve as nurses in the enlarged naval hospital, the depot's many dispensaries and dental clinics. The majority of the women Marine reservists served at Page Field.

  57. From Dec. 7, 1941, to Aug. 14, 1945, over 200,000 recruits passed through Parris Island. The peak load topped 18,000 recruits in August 1945. At the war’s end, demobilization came quickly. By the end of 1946, all but three recruit battalions had been deactivated. Page Field, once thriving with activity, was placed on maintenance status.

  58. Although most notably known for recruit training, Parris Island has been a home to a number of other commands. This included Page Field, Barrage Balloon and Glider Units, Women Reserves, and Defense Battalions on Parris Island. Located on the neighboring islands were Coastal Beach Patrols, Horse and Dog Patrols and a Naval Air Station.

  59. At the age of 50, Paul H. Douglas became the oldest Marine to undergo recruit training at Parris Island. After graduation in 1942, Douglas went on to the Pacific theater where he won two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star. In 1948, Douglas was elected Senator from the State of Illinois and served until 1966. In 1977, the Parris Island Visitor Center (Building 283) was renamed in honor of Senator Douglas.

  60. While recruit training slowed down, some important changes occurred at Parris Island. In 1949, the old Naval Hospital was closed and a new hospital was built along the Beaufort River. Also in 1949, two major changes occurred at Parris Island. For the first time, both black and women recruits began training at the depot. Initially, the black recruits were placed in segregated platoons with black drill instructors, but within six months, the base commander, Maj. Gen. Alfred Noble, realized that this mode of training was undesirable, and by September 1949, Noble received permission to integrate all aspects of recruit training.

  61. Women Marines came to Parris Island in 1949 when it was decided to make them a permanent part of the Marine Corps. Parris Island was chosen as the exclusive training site for enlisted women recruits. In February 1949, the women reoccupied the old World War II women's reserve area and were designated the 3rd Recruit Training Battalion with Lt. Col. Margaret M. Henderson as their commander.

  62. After World War II, numerous changes occurred on the Depot. More than 150 unserviceable buildings were demolished or removed from the depot. New construction began to replace the quonset huts with new brick barracks. Housing expansion took place at Ribaut Village for sergeants and below, and apartments were built along Wake Boulevard for staff noncommissioned officers.

  63. The Marine reputation of being “the first to fight” attracted thousands of recruits to Parris Island who were motivated to serve the nation during the Korean War. In the spring of 1950, there were 2,000 recruits on Parris Island divided between two male and one female training battalion. At the outbreak of the Korean War, the base received a large influx of recruits and reservists. Before the year was out, eight recruit battalions were operating. In March 1952, a new peak of recruits was reached with over 24,000 men and women undergoing training at one time. In all, some 138,000 Marines graduated from Parris Island for service during the Korean War.

  64. Due to the influx of recruits on Parris Island while building up for the Korean War, there was a shortage of qualified drill instructors. The depot recognized the need for a formal school, and on Oct. 6th, 1952, a Drill Instructors Course was established. The original course lasted three and one-half weeks. Drill instructor applicants were required to be 21 years old, have neat appearance, have alertness, a suitable voice, and self-confidence. The current Drill Instructor School lasts 11 weeks and encompasses more than 500 hours of academic instruction. Applicants are selected by Headquarters, Marine Corps, to fulfil this prestigious billet.

  65. In 1954, the Parris Island Iwo Jima Monument was dedicated in a ceremony aboard the depot. The monument, which is located on Boulevard de France adjacent to the parade deck, is the focal point of the present day Eagle, Globe, and Anchor ceremony. Upon completion of the Crucible’s final 15-kilometer hike, recruits assemble at the monument to receive their first EGA from their drill instructors, re-affirm their oath of enlistment, and are for the first time in their training called “Marines”.

  66. In 1956, the training philosophy that produced so many Marines with exceptional combat credentials came under national and world scrutiny following the Ribbon Creek training incident. On April 8, 1956, Drill Instructor Staff Sergeant McKeon led his platoon on a night march into Ribbon Creek, where several recruits drowned. As a result, Staff Sergeant McKeon was court-martialed, and recruit training was modified to provide closer supervision and a mandatory standardized curriculum.

  67. As a direct result of the Ribbon Creek incident in 1956, The Drill Instructors School adopted the Drill Instructors Creed. Memorized by all drill instructors, the creed commences with the phrase, “These Recruits are entrusted to my care, I will train them to the best of my ability”, and emphasizes the tremendous responsibility of the drill instructor for not only health, safety, and training, but also in setting the example in conduct for Marine Corps recruits.

  68. In 1956, drill instructors aboard Parris Island are issued the venerated field hat, known as the “campaign cover.” The distinctive cover, with four depressions on the top and a straight brim of uniform diameter around the base, helped shield the drill instructors from harsh weather aboard the depot. The campaign cover is still in use today and is an iconic piece of the drill instructor uniform.

  69. The recruit training physical conditioning uniform has undergone revisions throughout the years. In 1956, a recruit’s physical training uniform, otherwise known as “PT” gear, consisted of tennis shoes, red baseball hats, red shorts, and gold t-shirts bearing the letters “USMC”. Today, Marines wear what is known as “green on green”, which is a short sleeve green “skivvy” t-shirt, green shorts, and/or a sweat-suit. In 2008, the Marines procured a running “track” suit, which is issued to all graduating Marines to retain throughout their Marine Corps career.

  70. In 1957, recruits were given silver painted helmet liners, known as chrome domes, to reflect the sun-light. This practice was kept until the mid-1980s, when they went back to wearing soft utility hats. Today, recruits can be seen wearing an assortment of headgear, depending on the mission and task at hand. Field exercises are conducted in the Kevlar helmet, designed to provide ballistic protection against enemy fire, while field or garrison covers are worn during normal day-to-day training.

  71. In 1960, Hurricane Gracie hit the island with winds varying from 100 to 140 mph. It caused the depot’s commanding officer to move out of his quarters, Quarters One, until repairs were completed. Seated next to the historic Lyceum building on Panama Street, Quarters One is currently under renovation again and is scheduled to be completed in late 2015.

  72. In 1961, the M14 7.62mm rifle is adopted at Parris Island for marksmanship training. Seen as an improvement to the M1 Garand, the M14 featured an external 20-round box magazine, which allowed the rifle to be reloaded faster. The rifle saw limited use in Vietnam, before being phased out for the M16 rifle, which has been modified and is still in use today.

  73. In January of 1965, Parris Island’s recruit receiving moved from Headquarters and Service Battalion to a new location near the Recruit Training Regiment Headquarters. This is the first time the infamous “Yellow Footprints” appear. To this day, upon a recruit’s arrival to Parris Island, they are ordered off of their bus, or van, and instructed to stand on the yellow footprints, where they get their first taste of recruit training with a speech from a receiving drill instructor.

  74. During the Vietnam War, more than 200,000 recruits graduated from Parris Island with the peak load being 10,979 in March 1966. No new battalions were added, but training was cut from 11 weeks to eight weeks, and the size of the recruit platoons was increased. In 1964, a standardized Marine Corps recruit training syllabus was adopted by both Marine Corps Recruit Depots Parris Island and San Diego.

  75. Physical fitness was, and still is, a constant priority for recruits aboard Parris Island. Common exercises included sit-ups, push-ups, bends and thrusts and a 300-yard shuttle run. Recruits also engaged in team building exercises such as the obstacle and confidence courses, log drills, rope climbing, body carrying, and tug of war. Additionally, recruits were instructed in hand-to-hand combat techniques with bayonets and pugil sticks.

  76. In 1971, formalized individual combat training was added to the recruit training curriculum. From 1971 to 1973, recruits and their drill instructors were bused to Camp Lejeune for one to two weeks of field training. By 1974, facilities for combat training were completed at Page Field, and the trips to Camp Lejeune stopped.

  77. A major event for women occurred during the Vietnam War, when the construction of a modern complex was complete on the site of the old base golf course. The new facility was capable of housing over 200 permanent personnel in semi-private rooms and 200 female recruits. The complex included an exchange, beauty shop, classrooms, mess halls, clothing issue, storage, offices and parade and athletic fields.

  78. In 1975, recruits begin training with the M16A1 Rifle. The M16A1 saw service with Marines in Vietnam. The rifle is chambered in 5.56mm NATO, and boasts a 30-round detachable box magazine, although at the time was utilizing 20-round magazines. Originally a select-fire weapon capable of fully automatic fire, the rifle was later modified to fire in either semi-automatic (1 pull of trigger = 1 shot) or three-round burst (1 pull of trigger = three shots). It was modified over the subsequent years, and recruits present day train with the M16A4 service rifle.

  79. In 1976, with the Vietnam War over, Marine Commandant Gen. Louis H. Wilson instituted the use of a new training order termed “Standing Operating Procedures for Male Recruit Training.“ This detailed and strict training guideline emphasized drill, academics and physical fitness. Today, the Recruit Training Order is the governing document that provides structure to daily training operations on Parris Island.

  80. In the 1980s, recruit training for both male and female recruits averaged about 11 weeks with 56 actual training days. The training was still divided into three phases with phase one concentrating on physical conditioning, phase two being marksmanship training with the M16A2 and phase three including basic combat training, final testing and graduation. By this time, the average recruit was between 19 and 20 years old. Those who had high school diplomas or equivalents topped 99 percent.

  81. While male training changed, women recruit training expanded. In 1981, women began a limited exposure to combat training, and in November 1985, they began firing for score at the rifle range. February of 1987 marks the re-designation of Women’s Recruit Training Battalion to 4th Recruit Training Battalion, which served to synchronize training across the Recruit Training Regiment. On June 23, 1989, the 2nd and 4th Recruit Training battalions had a combined graduation, a tradition that continues to this day.

  82. The Individual Combat Training portion of the curriculum for recruits was added in 1971, which aimed to develop the skills of a basic rifleman in all recruits. In 1988, the program was expanded and named “Basic Warrior Training”, where all recruits were exposed to realistic combat training, no matter their occupational specialty. Basic Warrior Training is instructed by Marine instructors from the Weapons and Field Training Battalion and occurs during week nine of the recruit training curriculum.

  83. New innovations were added to recruit training during the tenure of Commandant Gen. Charles C. Krulak. These included the Crucible and the teaching of core values to recruits. The Marine Corps values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment are stressed to recruits to this day and take place as guided discussions by the training platoon’s senior drill instructor to build esprit de corps and make not just warriors but better citizens.

  84. The Crucible, a 54-hour training evolution relying mainly on teamwork, included about 40 miles of total movement by foot. Training was extended from 11 to 12 weeks to accommodate the course. The first recruits ran the course Dec. 12-14, 1996. Requirements included food and sleep deprivation and eight main events in the course augmented by “Warrior Stations.” Each station was designed to test problem solving skills as recruit teams learned to function as a unit. The eight major events included: day movement resupply, casualty evacuation, combat assault resupply, night infiltration, leadership reaction course, enhanced confidence course, unknown distance firing and the night march.

  85. During the last quarter of the 20th century, tremendous changes occurred to the physical landscape and organization of Parris Island. World War II-era buildings went out of use and were replaced with new structures. In 1983, the commanding general of Parris Island was placed over the recruiting district east of the Mississippi River. To reflect this change, the depot’s official name was altered to Marine Corps Recruit Depot/Eastern Recruiting Region Parris Island, South Carolina.

  86. Through formalized recruit training operations had been well underway for the better part of a century; it wasn’t until 1997 that the Drill Instructor Ribbon became a uniform item. This service ribbon, which is olive drab with a khaki stripe in the center, is awarded to Marines who complete a rigorous 36 month assignment as drill instructors.

  87. For the first time in history, Parris Island was evacuated when Hurricane Floyd threatened the lowcountry area. Always vigilant, the Marines executed their continuation of operations plan, and loaded personnel and equipment for transport to Marine Corps Logistics Base – Albany, GA. The Marines remain prepared to this day and have plans to continue training with minimal interruption should another tropical storm threaten the region.

  88. The majority of the training program initiated in the 1990s was retained into the first potion of the 21st century. By 2003, the Crucible was being conducted earlier in the training schedule. Water survival requirements were increased, and a Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP) was initiated, requiring recruits to qualify at the tan belt level.

  89. Keeping with the phrase “Every Marine a Rifleman”, all recruits who graduate Parris Island, regardless of their chosen occupational specialty, will attend the School of Infantry – East in Camp Geiger, North Carolina. Marines who are infantrymen by trade will attend a 59-day program of instruction, while non-infantry Marines attend a 29-day course designed to teach the common skills a Marine needs in combat.

  90. After Sept. 11, 2001, and during the start of combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, additional tactical training requirements were added. These included updated first aid training, restructuring of marksmanship qualification, increased fire-team level tactics and immediate action drills. These courses aimed to develop greater proficiency in individual skills prior to a recruit attending the school of infantry.

  91. Values-based training is the method by which recruits are instilled with the Marine Corps core values of honor, commitment and courage. Throughout their training, recruits learn how to make ethical and moral decisions that will guide them through their military careers and lifetimes. Values-based training also binds the core values to the traditional Marine concepts that define the Marine Corps of the past and future. These include every Marine a rifleman, first to fight, tradition, fitness, teamwork, take care of our own and small-unit leadership. This results in a Marine with the fundamental character and warrior ethos who will properly and proudly serve Corps and country.

  92. In November 1985, women Marines began training at the rifle range for score. This, coupled with field training, was designed to give women Marines the necessary skills to handle combat situations. Since 1985, combat training for women Marines has in­creased, and in present day, the period of instruction for both male and female recruits is identical.

  93. On June 4, 1986, President Ronald Reagan visited the depot. During his tour, the Marine One helicopters landed on present day “leatherneck square”, and President Reagan toured the installation, witnessing different training events including the “Slide for Life” at the confidence course. He was the second sitting president to visit the depot in its 100-year history.

  94. In 1993, the Parris Island Museum was certified as the Marine Corp’s first command museum. Situated on Panama Street aboard the depot, the command museum features artifacts from the early settlements aboard the installation, displays covering the early years of training aboard the depot, as well as exhibits for the conflicts Marines have participated in. The museum will be undergoing renovations in 2015, adding two new displays scheduled to open in October.

  95. On April 12, 2013, the final “Parris Island Boot” was published. The publication, which ran from 1943 to 2013, featured articles on recruits in training, graduating recruits, and other key events that have taken place throughout the depot and Marine Corps.

  96. It is possible to tell how far a recruit has progressed in training by the uniform that he or she is wearing. Recruits who have just arrived to the island and are undergoing processing wear the camouflage utility uniform with “unbloused” pant legs and tennis shoes. This changes on training day one, when footwear is replaced with boots. Changes in the uniform occur throughout the phases, until graduation week, where the newest Marines wear the normal versions of the Marine Corps uniform seen today.

  97. Often unnoticed by both residences and visitors are the depot’s pet cemeteries, which contain storied mascots, provost marshal dogs and family pets. The biggest cemetery is located along the southern side of the dry dock across the street from Quarters One, the home of Parris Island’s commanding general. The largest marker stands as a monument to Mike, mascot of Parris Island from 1915 until 1916. Mike, an Irish terrier, was born in 1905. Mike became ill in 1916 and was rushed to a veterinarian in Savannah, where he died. His remains were returned to Parris Island by tugboat, and he was buried under a stone marker constructed by John Bush, a Marine who would later became the head of the depot’s masonry department.

  98. Prior to, and during initial processing at Parris Island, a recruit must complete what is known as an initial strength test. This test, requiring a minimum of two pull ups, 44 crunches, and 13:30 timed one and a half mile run. Females must be able to complete a 12-second flexed arm hang, 44 crunches, and a 15:00 times one and a half mile run. If a recruit fails to meet the standards, he/she will not enter into training and will be sent to the Physical Conditioning Platoon, where they will exercise until they meet the requirements to assess into training.

  99. A recruit must demonstrate mastery of seven graduation criterion in order to earn the title United States Marine. He/She must pass swim qualification, demonstrate proficiency on the rifle range, pass the Physical Fitness Test and Combat Fitness Test, master knowledge on two written exams and one practical application test, qualify in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, successfully complete the Crucible, and pass the Battalion Commander’s inspection. Failure of even one of these events can result in a recruit being sent back into training to try again, or separated from recruit training.

  100. Parris Island has the designation of being the second oldest post in the Marine Corps. It is the longest continually operating recruit training installation. Over the past 100 years, Parris Island has made over one million new Marines and will remain steadfast in its commitment to the lowcountry and nation for the next 100 years.