What It’s Like To Graduate From Marine Boot Camp …A Photo Tour

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parris-island-marine-graduation.jpg As I mentioned earlier, my nephew’s graduation from Marine Boot Camp had a big effect on me.

He became a basically-trained Marine on Friday, August 18, 2006, part of “M” Company, Third Battalion, Platoon 3068.

Here’s how things looked, from a proud Aunt’s perspective…


A First-Hand Account of Graduation from Boot Camp

I was so overwhelmingly impressed by what I saw that day:

The “formal” procedures involving the top-notch musically-inclined Marine band along with a good deal of ceremonial sword spinning, cannon-blasting, and flag waving…

The Parris Island Marine band was AWESOME! Marines firing the cannons at the graduation ceremony. Changing of the guard among Marine officers.

History & Lyrics for the Marine Hymn

Marine recruits standing at attention — for hours, in the blazing sun, in a series of lines & groupings — all part of the process to graduate 566 young men & women on this day…

Marine recruits marching to their graduation ceremony. Marine boot camp parade of graduates at Parris Island. Marines marching in the boot camp parade march on graduation day.
Hummer, the Marine Corps newest Depot mascot graduated on this day, as well. Hummer is s 7-month old English bulldog who is taking the place of Lance Corporal Mac, a 7-year-old English bulldog who served active duty from 2002 to 2006. Mac is enjoying retirement now while being treated for a spinal condition. He lives with Staff Sgt. Benjamin Becker & his family, and he accompanies Sgt. Becker to work every day.

It is said a canine mascot helps by “boosting the morale of his fellow troops and recruits, and showing visiting families what a “real” devil dog looks like.

The Marines canine mascot, Hummer, at the graduation ceremonies. Hummer the mascot standing at attention while looking at his superior officer at the graduation ceremony The Old English Bulldog is the official mascot of the U.S. Marines. Marine mascot, Hummer, at the Boot Camp graduation ceremonies at Parris Island.

The English bulldog was unofficially adopted as the Marine Corps mascot during World War I, when the German Army had reportedly nicknamed the attacking Marines “Teufelhunden,” meaning “Devil Dogs.” Source

The precise movements of Marine officers and the recruits. From solid, meaningful salutes of respect to clenched fists of the recruits as they walk… Perfection is what everyone strives for here. And it’s evident that it’s the ultimate sign of respect…

Something about 'rank' -- Private vs Private First Class -- determined who looked at superior officers as they marched by, and who was required to continue looking forward. Marine recruits in an award ceremony who obviously were to have no eye contact with their superior officers. An example of all the tightly closed fists we witnessed on this day... there's definitely an art to the marching stance.
A new graduate watches as a new class of recruits begins training. In his own words: 'Pitiful.' It was obvious how much is learned by the time a Marine recruit graduates.
Awe-inspiring female recruits & officers who stood strong, and touch, and proved that women are just as capable as men at defending this great country of ours…

Marching female marines. Women marching in the Marine graduation ceremony.

On F
ebruary 15, 1949, a separate “command” was activated for the sole purpose of training female Marine recruits. This command has since been designated the 4th Recruit Training Battalion and is the only battalion in the Corps to train female recruits.

Source: globalsecurity.org

Girls with guns…

Female Marine recruits getting their orders. Armed Marines on a mission...

The crowd, filled with oh-so-proud mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, girlfriends, boyfriends, children and more! The pride was SO evident on this day… a relative’s pride for their remarkable Marine, and the Marine recruits’ pride for their own mastery of the impossible…

A toddler in the audience waving and American flag. Proud family members of a graduating Marine. A little girl waving a U.S. Marine flag.
A U.S. Army soldier in the audience at Marine Boot Camp graduation.A U.S. Navy officer at the Marine Boot Camp graduation. A Marine officer talking to an Air Force officer who was in the audience.
And the drill instructors who, prior to this day, I had thought worked hard to get to where they are, but I figured they were just men & women who were on one big ego trip — with control issues. You know, the kind of people who thrive on making other people feel small and making themselves feel big. But on this day, I learned what it really means to work hard — and that INCLUDED all of the drill sergeants and other leaders.

making-marines-parris-island-dvd.jpg One, in particular impressed Jim & I to no end… He worked as hard or harder than his recruits — in the hot blazing sun — moving 90-miles-an-hour at all times — determined and focused on the task at hand. For nearly an hour (after the graduation ceremony) we watched him interact with his recruits. He never asked his recruits to do something without lending a hand himself — even menial tasks like picking up trash in the bleachers and out on the sidewalks. We also watched him “lay it on” one recruit (we’re talking HARD! Tough! In-your-face! and MEAN!), so we truly saw this guy’s gruff & mean side. Yet it was evident that he was so easy to respect and learn from at the same time. Kudos to all of the drill instructors who are fair & balanced like this… truly a class act.


This is the Marine we watched for a long time as he showed his hard, and soft side... This is garbage duty. They were searching for the TINIEST pieces of trash! Everywhere you looked... there was another group of Marine recruits going through some different form of training. New recruits training with guns. Another class of recruits marching with rifles. You can see their freshly-shaved heads... even from this distance!


Online video: Parris Island Marine recruits & drill instructors


The Core Values: Honor, Courage and Commitment
Fresh new graduates shouting 'Ooh-rah' at the end of their graduation ceremony. The newest class of basically trained Marines rushing to hug and applaud one another. Friends and family members rushed down from the bleachers to hug their graduates!

FAQ for parents & visitors at Parris Island graduation.

1 thought on “What It’s Like To Graduate From Marine Boot Camp …A Photo Tour”

  1. This was my platoon!  I have no pictures of my platoon at graduation, so thank you for this!  I was in Plt 4026, The tall female in the second row with short hair!  I recently EASed as a Sergeant.  Best 5 years of my life!  OohRah!


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