Little-Known Facts About Marine Boot Camp At Parris Island

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Benjamin -- our favorite 2006 Marine graduate. We went to South Carolina last weekend to watch Jim’s nephew graduate from Marine Boot Camp at Parris Island.

I learned SO much in the short time I was there!

Parris Island is the Marine Corps Recruit Depot for all male Marines east of the Mississippi River and all female Marines nationwide.

About 19,000 recruits are trained at Parris Island each year. On this day, 566 graduated from Marine Boot Camp — companies “M” and “N”, 3rd and 4th Battalions.

They say Parris Island is where America’s young men & women are transformed into Marines. (Or, as our nephew says: “They’re programmed here.”)

Here are just a few interesting things I’ve learned from having a nephew in the Marines…


First Impressions

The first thing I noticed upon reaching South Carolina — and Parris Island in particular — were all the palm trees… and the water…

South Carolina logo - a palm tree and a crescent moon.
That, and practically everyone displays this really cool logo (crescent moon & palm tree) for the State of South Carolina on their cars, in restaurants… everywhere!

I’m told, the first thing the Marine recruits notice (from their seat aboard the bus that transports them from the airport to Parris Island) is: all the water, the marsh lands, and the fact that they’re actually on an island.

In fact, the recruits are given thorough do-not-try-to-escape instructions, along with a run-down of all the dangers they would encounter in the event that they did try to leave the island alone. (See everything a Marine recruit sees on his or her very first day here.)

During Boot Camp, Marine recruits are trained (or “programmed”) mentally, as well as physically, and morally.

Here’s a day-by-day, week-by-week account of everything recruits do at Boot Camp: Training Matrix.

The recruit training cycle is 12 weeks long for both male and female recruits; however this doesn’t include their first week of in-processing and orientation, so the actual time recruits spend on Parris Island is 13 weeks.

Swampy marsh lands seen crossing over the bridge onto Parris Island.You know… after attending a Boot Camp graduation at Parris Island, I can’t help but wish that every young man and woman (self included) would have to go through “boot camp” just to get through life. You know, right between high school and graduation. I think “boot camp” should be the next requirement before you can go to college, enter the armed services, start your own business… whatever.

I was just completely impressed with the attitude and behaviors that these young recruits clearly learned in 12 short weeks. It is evident that this information is permanently etched into their brains now.

The recruits I saw who had just graduated from boot camp truly did seem like they’re in a class of their own — the FEW, the PROUD, the MARINES.

More about Parris Island & the recruits that pass through there: Fact Sheet (.doc)

Official marine photographers. Check out the pictures I took from a recruit’s perspective entering the Marines!

Pictures from the graduation ceremony.


Closing Thoughts

I get chills when I think back to the little bit of Marine activity I saw on that day. I was so impressed.

And I’m so truly proud … of our nephew, Benjamin …and all the Marine recruits who pass through Parris Island.

Even the ones who didn’t make it… I’m so proud of them for trying.


It has been said time and time again by former Marines that Marine Corps recruit training was the most difficult thing they ever had to do in their entire lives. In order to train the world’s most elite fighting force, it has to be that way.


Be sure to ask a Marine to tell you about The Crucible!

  • Recruits will travel 42 miles on foot during the event.
  • There are 29 problem-solving exercises during the Crucible.
  • It consists of 36 different stations.
  • The recruits will have three meals, ready-to-eat (MREs) during the 54 hours.
  • The recruits will be required to carry ammunition cans up to 50 pounds and dummies up to 100 pounds during the Crucible, in addition to 782 gear, uniform and M16 A2 service rifle weight.

Here’s an excellent online movie about The Crucible experience.


My nephew's platoon at the end of the graduation ceremony... yelling 'Ooh rah!'... all 566 of them... at once!
Listen: Ooh-rah!

10 Reasons to love the Marine Corps.

10 thoughts on “Little-Known Facts About Marine Boot Camp At Parris Island”

  1. HI first of all I want to Thank Each & Every Marine who got my fiance Forest Gaylord highland jr. also known as Rusty.The Plaque, I am very Greatful to each & everyone of you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. he also went to boot camp here.. & so did my nephew  Micheal Gary Booth jr.Godv Bless Each & everyone of you.

  2. As a former Marine as there is no such thing as an ex-Marine, once a Marine, always a Marine, I can offer some closer insight into the grand scheme of boot camp and how they mentally break you down and build you back again as a fighting machine. The first phase, learning Marine Corps history and classroom type things is when they completely strip you of all identity, which in the end is not a bad thing at all. No pronouns are allowed in boot camp, you can’t say I, he, she, you, they, or any other pronoun. Everything is this recruit, these recruits, drill instructor whoever. Every recruit gets picked on for as long a time as the drill instructors see fit to see if you’re mentally able to become a Marine, for some it’s weeks, others like myself it’s only a few days and during that period of time, you can do no right, even if you do it perfectly. This is how they make you a clean slate to write soldiering onto. The second phase, the rifle range and the first of many “humps” you take is the time to build upon you the idea that you are part of a whole, not an individual. Humps are grueling 15 plus mile hikes carrying in my case 2/3 of your own body weight as I’m a small guy. The first one is about 15 miles, out to stay at the rifle range, and it took about 4 hours give or take for my platoon to arrive. Once we got there, we were in trouble for no particular reason, so the drill instructors had us put our foot lockers with all our gear on our bunks, a combined weight of around 400 pounds I estimate, then proceed to pick up our racks, one recruit on each end, and proceed to walk around the squad bay until we made a complete lap with no one touching the floor. Needless to say this never actually happened, so they continued this until they were satisfied that we’d had enough. Now by this time It had been at least 5 1/2 or 6 hours since we went to the bathroom, so they all went into the drill instructors office and had us doing something, leaving us to our own devices. Now I had to go, badly, so I went up to the office and banged on, well slapped on the side of the door, which is how a recruit get’s the drill instructors attention, they said what, and I said “Sir recruit Sturgill requests permission to make a head call” go to the bathroom for civilians. My reply was “Sturgill, aren’t you a squad leader?” the wheels started turning furiously and I understood that I should have asked for the whole platoon to make a head call, and not just myself. My reply almost instantly was “Not anymore sir”. I could tell that my self evaluation and self discipline impressed them as I did not get further reprimanded by letting everyone else go to the bathroom and making me pee my pants or some other form of mental discipline. Then phase 3, the crucible yes. It is very challenging and you put all the skills you’ve been learning for the past 8 weeks to use every day and night. When you come out the other side you are almost a Marine, but not quite. Our last night on the Island, one of our drill instructors, the heavy, which means the one responsible for the strictest discipline, stayed up well after lights out talking with us about actual life in the Corps. Then suddenly the door opened, and none of us were supposed to be out of our racks, I’ve never seen 50 people silently run up to 50 feet away so fast, because none of us wanted the drill instructor to get in any trouble. About all I can sum up boot camp with is the sense of pride I knew we all had, and how much I personally think every person in this country should have to go through that experience whether you want to or not.

  3. Wish I had never signed the papers to let my son join the Marines……they are true to their saying “First battalion makes men, Second battalion makes Marines, 3rd battalion makes Machines”…..the stuff they tell the recruits prior to getting there about “they can’t hit you or hurt you….blah, blah, blah……they cover up the stuff they do wrong. Maybe they should investigate Commanding Officers that MAKE privates stand guard while they rape female soldiers, or recruits who die during boot camp at the hands of the D.I’s but that story is never told. I was so proud when I saw my son graduate, I thought wow, he’s become a man. I never realized the horrors of how that happened. PTSD…’s real, it horrible, and the CORP programs their robots, oops I mean recruits……I don’t have anything against the guys that join, I know they go into it for the right reasons. I understand having to train soldiers to survive, even being rough on them, but some things are just uncalled for. Just makes me sad that these fine men and women are joining with the high hopes of getting that EGA and instead get kicked in the back, punched, choked, starved,(even if they are supposed to be on extra rations because of being underweight…try no rations because being underweight means they are weak) Parris Island needs to spend more time observing 3rd Battalion, why do they think lots of these guys are committing suicide….

  4. I was in PLC in the 70’s. Unfortunately I dor’d but not because it was too rough. I have never regretted the decision for entering or leaving. and ever since then I agree with the sentiment about thinking everyone should go through basic training of some sort

    I consider myself like a distant cousin or nephew to the Marines. My daughter is now joining the Marines and I could not be prouder.

  5. I want to be a marine because I want to be a marine and also because I want to challenge myself and prove that there’s no easy way out. I start boot camp in October and as a female I don’t really know what to expect so I will really appreciate some advice.


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