Monday, September 17, 2012

We'll Always Have Parris....Island.

Yesterday I got as close to Parris Island as I've been in about 50+ years.

One hot and steamy July afternoon all those years ago, I stepped off the bus from Charleston at P.I., stood on the famed yellow footprints and was officially greeted.

Welcomed was not the right word.

At that point, the Marines took over my young life. Well, them and the ever-present sand fleas. 

I think my Reserve unit spent about a dollar bus fare to ship me to Boot Camp down in Beaufort County.

But, most of the 16,000 young men (and women) annually arrived at MCRD (Marine Corps Recruit Depot) by train and, for many, their first taste of The South was Yemassee, S.C.

 Apparently the train station is still an important part of the small town and a large fading mural depicts the glory days of steam locomotives.

My mother grew up in Yemassee and told me she and her 3 sisters often would wander down to the station - about when the train was due - and enjoy the sight of fit, virile young men trooping from the train and being assembled for the short bus ride to Parris Island.

Yeah, Mom mentioned that.

 A Charleston native - even at 18 - knows summer here is hot, hazy and humid so I am surprised I agreed to enter Boot Camp in July.

Fellow recruits from far away places like Ohio and New York also were amazed at my profound stupidity.

After I had signed up and joined the local Reserve unit, I was sworn in one evening in a ceremony downtown at the Gloria Theater.

Today it's known as the College of Charleston's Sottile Theater but my night there, standing on stage with a few other young recruits, is remembered as the premiere of the new Jack Webb movie called "The DI."

As we sat in stunned silence, the other newest recruits and I watched a scary, pretty accurate depiction of what we were about to face. Yikes.

 (Click on the photos for more detail.) I did NOT take the photo of the friendly Drill Instructors. That came from the internet. My palms still get sweaty when I see just one in uniform.

 As a footnote, many years later I met Jack Webb while I was working at Universal Studios. He was shorter - and nicer - than he appeared in the Marine Corps movie.

At least I didn't salute him.

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At Wed Sep 19, 09:40:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Semper Fi! I managed to get ou of PI by June,, but it was still quite uncomfortable!


At Sat Mar 10, 08:00:00 PM , Anonymous Mac Marine said...

Off the train from Rocky Mount and onto the bus t Yemassee the night of 22Aug67. Left my childhood behind in the yellow footprints later that night, and launched a career I will never regret. I just (Feb'18) returned to PISC to bury my Senior Drill Instructor, who I knew and followed for 51 years. He was buried just outside the Island in Beaufort SC. Toured PISC alone and hardly recognized it from the Nam era. My 2dBn barracks have been replaced by the new brick Recruit Receiving bldg. All the old wooden WWII barracks live now only in my memory. As a consolation, the yellow footprints have been moved onto Panama Street, directly in front of where our front hatch was. Thus, all new recruits and future Sgts Major begin their careers standing exactly where I wore 3 sets of heels off my boots, and sweat thru personnel inspections. OooRahh. I stopped at Yemassee train station on the way home and took pictures. Did not see the faded sign you showed; it must have been on the northern side of the bldg. No excuse, sir.

At Sun Mar 11, 04:20:00 PM , Blogger chuckography said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At Sun Mar 11, 04:20:00 PM , Blogger chuckography said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At Sun Mar 11, 04:22:00 PM , Blogger chuckography said...

Thank you so much for reading my USMC blog entry and taking the time to share your reaction and some of your Corps story.

Of course, I am "Old Corps" by being a boot in 1957!

See if you can find in my blog where I lied to avoid being sent to MP school and ended up with a 4631 Combat Photographer MOS, assigned to the Camp Lejeune Base Photo Lab.

Good news for me, there was no combat during 1957-1960! By the time Vietnam got serious, I was graduating from college at USD (1968-BA English Major/Journalism minor).

Thanks again for sharing with me. Stay healthy and enjoy life!



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