PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. — The graduation of recruits from Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, recently witnessed by those attending an educators workshop on the island, is one of the ways traditions associated with the Marine Corps live on.
Graduation ceremonies provide perspective for “The Few. The Proud.”
Workshop attendees loaded onto a bus at 6 a.m. Thursday to witness physical training and the Moto Run, during which the graduating recruits take a 2.4-mile run at the depot with their families cheering them on. It was the last major physical activity for the recruits before being released to their families for the first time in 13 weeks.
A stop to the depot’s visitor’s center for a briefing on religious services was followed by a trip to the Parris Island Museum. The museum shows anything a person might want to know about the Corps’ history, from the uniforms worn, the conflicts fought the establishment of Parris Island — which was purchased from Alexander Parris in 1715, and played a central role in the Civil War and economic development in the 19th century before the Marines arrived in 1891 and took it over in 1915.
Visitors to the museum learn about Wheeler Humbert, who designed the globe-and-anchor Marines wore while working on a bridge from Parris Island to Port Royal Island during World War II. The Marine motto, “Semper Fidelis,” was established by Gen. Charles McCawley while serving as commandant from 1876 to 1891.
Shortly before 10 a.m., workshop participants witnessed a tender moment immediately following the family day ceremony when the graduating recruits and their families collided on the ceremony floor.
Sgt. Maj. Jacqueline Townsel, sergeant major of Fourth Recruit Training Battalion, told the families what life has been like for their loved ones — no alcohol, tobacco, driving or late nights — and impressed upon them the role families can play in keeping the recruits safe during the 10-day leave following graduation.
She also talked about the position drill instructors have, which often involves a 100-hour work week.
“When you see them, I encourage you to thank them,” Townsel said.
The workshop moved on to an obstacle course and martial arts demonstration, lunch with Marines at the mess hall — observing the pressure in consuming as many calories as they can in 20 minutes with many others in line — followed by a briefing on the classroom instruction and 100-question testing recruits go through, and the 48-foot rappel tower.
At the rappel tower, educators got their gear and a briefing before making their way down the rope. The level of safety was demonstrated when a participant got stuck and the Marines there assisted in bringing her down without incident.
“This is the safest thing you can do on Parris Island,” Capt. Maryanna Sheck, escorting officer for the Recruit Training Regiment, said after the individual had been brought down safely.
The workshop got to quickly experience the gas chamber, the Crucible Course, briefly view basic warrior training and take part in a question-and-answer session with their drill instructors over dinner.
The life of a drill instructor can be complicated, because there is very little time to turn that mode off, and there is even less room for error.
“The Marine Corps today is the toughest Marine Corps there has ever been, because we don’t slack on anything,” Sheck said during the dinner conversation.
The activities on Thursday concluded after a stop at the Marine Corps Exchange. On Friday, the workshop was expected to conclude with the recruit graduation ceremony.