Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island is one of the birthplaces of basically trained Marines. It is here where America's young men and women are transformed into Marines. Marines are forged in a furnace of shared hardship and tough training. This shared, intense experience creates bonds of comradeship and standards of conduct so strong that Marines will let nothing stand in their way.
Today, about 19,000 recruits are trained at Parris Island each year. The Recruit Training Regiment is made up of four recruit training battalions and one support battalion. The regiment, along with Weapons and Field Training Battalion, are made up of drill instructors and other Marines who are responsible for training recruits.
During 1715 an Englishman named Colonel Alexander Parris purchased the island and eight small surrounding islands. Until the Civil War, plantation life flourished here.
Marines were first stationed on Parris Island in 1891, in the form of a small security detachment headed by First Sergeant Richard Donovan. His unit was attached to the Naval Station, Port Royal, the forerunner of Parris Island. Donovan's unit was highly commended for preserving life and property during hurricanes and tidal waves that swept over the island in 1891 and 1893.
Military buildings and homes that were constructed between 1891 and World War I form the nucleus of the Parris Island Historic District. At the district center are the commanding general's home, a 19th century wooden dry dock and a turn of the century gazebo- all of which are on the National Register of Historic Places. On Nov. 1, 1915, Parris Island was officially designated a Marine Corps Recruit Depot and training was continued from then on.
Prior to 1929, all transportation to and from the island was by ferry from Port Royal docks to the Recruit Depot docks. In that year the causeway and a bridge over Archer's Creek were completed, thus ending the water transportation era. The causeway was dedicated as the General E. Pollock Memorial Causeway in April 1984.
During the fateful December of 1941, 5,272 recruits arrived here with 9,206 arriving the following month, making it necessary to add the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th Recruit Training Battalions. As the war influx continued, five battalions, were sent to New River, N.C., to train and the Depot expanded to 13 battalions. From 1941 through 1945, 204,509 recruits were trained here. At the time of the Japanese surrender, more than 20,000 recruits were aboard the Depot.
On February 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. The Korean conflict began in 1950 when 2,350 recruits were in training. From then until the 1st Marine Division was withdrawn from Korea, Parris Island drill instructors trained more than 138,000 recruits. During March 1952, the peak training load of 24,424 recruits was reached. The recruit tide again flooded during the years of the Vietnam War. A peak training load of 10,979 was reached during March 1966.
Parris Island is one of the most visited military facilities in the world, hosting more than 100,000 visitors a year. As the home of the Eastern Recruiting Region and Recruit Training for all male Marines east of the Mississippi River and all female Marines nation-wide, Parris Island expects to provide only the best experiences possible for our visitors. This is done by offering a variety of guided bus tours and ceremonies each week.
The Parris Island Museum contains more than 10,000 square feet of displays, making it one of the largest museums in the Southeast. The museum features large exhibit halls on the history of recruit training, 20th Century Marine Corps history and the history of Parris Island. Other displays depict low country military history starting with the 16th century rivalry between the French and the Spanish through the Colonial Wars, the Revolution, War of 1812, Civil War, Spanish American War, and the military facilities used during World War II. Temporary displays feature the history of Women Marines and famous Americans who served in the Marine Corps. The mission of the Parris Island Museum is to collect, preserve, exhibit and hold in trust for research and training objects, memorabilia, art, personal papers of lasting, historical and traditional value for the education, training, enrichment and inspiration of Marines and the general public interested in the Marine Corps, and to assist in the preservation and interpretation of historic sites on Parris Island.
Through MCRD’s challenging recruit training the Marine Corps is preparing its Marines for the 21st century. Marine Corps recruits are trained not only physically and mentally, but morally as well. Forming the bedrock of any Marine's character are the Core Values – Honor, Courage and Commitment.
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. Upon arrival at MCRD, a new recruit begins a virtually non-stop journey, the end of which results in the transformation of that recruit into a new Marine.
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.
Because of the long list of contraband items, the drill instructors who issue the mail are constantly on the lookout for packages or bulky envelopes. These items are generally opened by the recruit in the presence of the DI and are checked for contraband. If food items are sent, the recruit may eat as much of it as he wishes and share it with other recruits during the daily hour of free time, but the remainder will be disposed of prior to the end of free time. The recruits hygienic needs are taken care of.