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Marine Corps Recruit Depot

Eastern Recruiting Region

Parris Island, South Carolina
Parris Island Drill Instructors
 

Only about 600 drill instructors shape the approximately 20,000 recruits who come to Parris Island annually into basic United States Marines. This handful of dedicated DIs is entrusted with sustaining a more than 238-year legacy by transforming men and women into the next generation of Marines.

 
History of the Campaign Cover
The introduction of the pre-World War II campaign or field hat worn by drill instructors today originated during an advisory council meeting in 1956. Senior noncommissioned officers strongly recommended the adoption of better "headgear" for DIs.

At that time, the khaki barracks cap had a bill, but didn't shade the eyes. The soft khaki garrison cap didn't have a bill, and the green herringbone cape worn with the field uniform was also inadequate in the summer sun. The pith helmet was a practical alternative for wear in the hot Carolina summer. It was cool and its wide brim provided good shade for the eyes and neck. It later became the hat used by marksmanship instructors at the rifle range.
 
Further study indicated that the field hat was the item most preferred by DIs. It shaded the neck and eyes well, but did not keep the head as cool as the pith helmet. The field hat was a bit of tradition going back to the "Old Corps" of pre-World War II days. It also was more suitable for year-round wear than the pith helmet. By early June 1956, the Depot had requisitioned 1,000 field hats for delivery on Sept. 1, 1956, but Gen. Wallace M. Greene Jr., wanted to order 700 hats immediately. On Saturday, July 21, 1956, at 7:30 a.m. all 603 drill instructors of the recruit training command obtained their new hats.
 
Female drill instructors authorized to wear "Smokey"
The commandant of the Marine Corps announced on Sept. 13, 1996, that all female drill instructors were authorized to wear the previously male-only "Smokey" field hat. The commandant's decision has answered the frequently asked question, "Why not?" It was first asked in 1976 when the first females graduated from Drill Instructor School and again in 1983 when female DIs began wearing their scarlet shoulder cord. During their Sept. 26, 1996, graduation ceremony, female DI School graduates were issued field hats. A cord retirement ceremony took place Oct. 2, 1996, after which female DIs ceased wearing the scarlet cord and began wearing the cover. The commandant, Gen. Charles C. Krulak, was on hand for the event.
The final scarlet shoulder cord, the previous symbol of a female DI, was placed in the Parris Island Museum.
Drill Instructors' Creed



"These recruits are entrusted to my care.

I will train them to the best of my ability. 

I will develop them into smartly disciplined, physically fit, basically trained Marines, thoroughly indoctrinated in love
of Corps and country.

I will demand of them, and demonstrate by my own example, the highest standards of personal conduct, morality and professional skill."