PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. --
The Marine Corps prides itself on its long, rich history. One recruit stepped on the famous yellow footprints here with a lofty goal – to continue his family’s tradition and graduate as a fourth-generation Marine.
Rct. Jerry Bates III, 23, arrived Sept, 23, 2013, on Parris Island, S.C., determined to push through the nation’s toughest boot camp in order to earn the coveted title and proudly stand beside his family full of Marines.
“I chose the Marine Corps over the other branches because of tradition,” said Bates, Platoon 1097, Delta Company, 1st Recruit Training Battalion. “I enjoyed growing up in a military family, because I got to move around a lot and meet new people. It was hard when my dad was deployed and on the drill field. I was 8 or 9 when he was here as a drill instructor.”
His father served as a drill instructor on Parris Island from January 1998 to January 2001. Even though he was young when he was last here, Bates said he still recognizes some things on Parris Island.
Bates’ great-grandfather, who served 27 years in the Marine Corps, started the family tradition in the 1940s. His grandmother, grandfather and mother, Phaith Bates, each served four years in the Corps. His father, Sgt. Maj. Jerry Bates II, is currently serving at Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler, Okinawa, Japan, as the base sergeant major.
Bates III, a native of Jacksonville, N.C., earned a bachelor’s degree in exercise and sports science from Greensboro College in Greensboro, N.C., in May 2013. During his time in college, he attempted to become a Marine Corps officer, but he ended up going the enlisted route instead.
Bates’ father said he felt great when his son told him he was going to join the Marine Corps.
“I kind of wanted him to go the officer route, because he has a college degree; however, they had a backlog of 18 months,” said his father, a 42-year-old native of Mount Zion, Ill. “I told him that, going enlisted first, he will have a better understanding of the Corps.”
Sgt. James Willett, Bates’ senior drill instructor, appointed him as a squad leader early in training, immediately noticing his natural ability to lead the other recruits.
“When there is minimal supervision, he gets the other recruits to get their stuff done and fast,” said Willett, a 29-year-old native of Pomfret, Md.
Bates’ military occupational specialty is slated to be in the signals intelligence field, and he plans to make a career of the Marine Corps.
His mother, father, sisters and grandparents plan on attending his graduation Dec. 20, 2013, to see the newest addition to their long line of Marines walk across the parade deck bearing the family name.