Marine Boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina

Peatross Parade Deck, New Marines Graduation
Peatross Parade Deck, New Marines Graduation | Source

I have two family members that graduated from Parris Island.

This is my story of two trips to Beaufort, Hilton Head, Port Royal, Parris Island and the Atlantic Ocean.

I hope it helps you to know what is going on with your recruit, what to expect, when you can see them and some activities, places to go and to enjoy your stay and the AWESOME Marine Graduation.

 

First off, they have sand fleas there! Where? On Parris Island. Bring Bug spray!!!! AVON Bug guard is a good one, that’s the one I used. I didn’t get bitten by sand fleas but other family members did, OUCH!!!

Keeping track of your recruit

The only means of communication is by the US Postal Service aka snail mail. All mail is handled by human hands and this may take an extra day or two to process.

However there are some other ways to find out what is going on with your recruit.

There is the Training Matrix that you can download and print. I used this as a countdown calendar of sorts, I colored each day in as it passed with a yellow highlighter.

To use the Training Matrix as a countdown calendar.

Put the Mondays date in the first box at PR & CO, that’s the Monday they arrived.

Then put each consecutive Monday’s date down in this column. You will be able to track your recruits activities while they are away. You can even start planning a welcome home party, inviting family members, collecting recipes, buying or making decorations etc. ordering a huge WELCOME HOME banner on line etc.

You may be able to see your recruit while they are at book camp on the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island facebook page. I did get to see one of them. I checked it everyday. They did not always post new pictures every day but I checked it just in case.

Parris Island newspaper online and printed weekly

You can also check out

The Parris Island Boot its an online and printed weekly newspaper that has information about Parris Island and the recruits. The paper comes out on Friday but you can get a sneak peek of it on Thursday on the website. Be sure to pick up a printed copy for free at the Douglas Visitors Center when you are on Parris Island for the graduation. All the graduates names will be listed in it as well as some photos of the graduates. Neither of my graduates pictures were in it, but their names were and there were pictures of some of the other graduates just not mine. There are also back issues on the website that you can view.

Mail

You will probably will not get your first letter for 7 - 10 days after your recruit arrives at Parris Island. The recruits are very busy and do not have a lot of free time. It seemed to help to send them a letter with a blank piece of paper and a stamped, self addressed envelope, that way they did not have to spend any extra time getting them.

Only send PLAIN WHITE envelopes, no decorations or remarks! You do not want to bring any special attention to your recruit. Remember they are not Marines yet! Any thing sent with “Marine” on it may give the Drill Instructor a hissy fit and they will most likely be on your recruit like . . . well you know!!!

Do not send anything until your recruit asks for it, not even a picture. It could bring a remark like, “Your moms a mouth breather isn’t she”

Traffic Circle?? What is a Traffic Circle??

A traffic circle is a moving 4-way stop.

If you would like to turn right you will take the first exit in the circle, if you want to go straight take the second exit and if you will be turning left, take the third exit. See the video below for real traffic circle maneuvering.

Traffic Circle in Hilton Head, SC

All about Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island

FAMILY DAY IS THURSDAY!!

Arrive Weds, be prepared for an early start on Thursday, Family day!

You will want to wear your recruits battalion colors.

 

When you arrive on Parris Island

You are asked to register at the Douglas Visitor Center, right across from the “We Make Marines” sign, this is where your recruit will contact in the event they can not find you. On Friday Pick up a copy of THE BOOT at the Douglas Visitor Center, it will have the names of the graduates and some pictures, maybe even some of your recruit. There are also souveniers to purchase there. I wanted a small Platoon guideon/flag to wave, but both times I visited the DVC they were sold out.

There is a coffee shop in the Visitor's Center that opens pretty early. You need to be on base about an hour EARLY to see the Motivational Run. I missed the first family members run, I didn’t think it was really going to be anything, but . . . This will be your first chance to see your recruit!! It is just as much for the recruits as it is the family.

All of the graduates will be there. They will be in formation on the Peatross Parade Deck.Each platoons honor graduate will be holding the platoons guidon (flag) with the platoons number on it. Find your recruits platoon and hopefully you’ll find your recruit. To be honest, I cried at first because I could not pick my family member out. The recruits are all dressed the same, they have the same hair cut, they are standing the same, they basically look the same at first glance, especially in the dawn of the day. But our recruit said that they saw us as we came onto the parade deck and knew we were there. Know this, they are just as excited to see you as you are to see them. As the dawn turned to day and I was able to study these fine young men and I was able to identify my family member. PTL!!


Source

It seemed mostly for show but the excitement of seeing them for the first time in 3 months and cheering for them was an overwhelming experience. I highly recommend you attending it. Do not take your recurit off base, they will not be allowed to graduate if you do.

After the Motivational Run you can visit the Museum, which we did not, and I regret it. You can shop at the Marine Corps Exchange (MCX) and Food Court which is kind of like a small WalMart. They had everything from uniforms to official Marine shirts and T shirts, souvenirs, drinks, food, snacks, jewelry, flash lights, umbrellas, games and even graduation gifts you can purchase for your recruit. I must tell you that on both graduations our recruits wanted/needed items from the Marine Corps Exchange (MCX).


VIDEO Motivational Run

After the Motivational Run you can visit the Museum, which we did not, and I regret it. You can shop at the Marine Corps Exchange (MCX) and Food Court which is kind of like a small WalMart. They had everything from uniforms to official Marine shirts and T shirts, souvenirs, drinks, food, snacks, jewelry, flash lights, umbrellas, games and even graduation gifts you can purchase for your recruit. I must tell you that on both graduations our recruits wanted/needed items from the Marine Corps Exchange (MCX).

You will want to be at the All Weather Training Facility (AWTF) before 9:00. We had to go through metal detectors, K - 9 dogs and purse searches. Yes ladies clean out your purse it probably will be searched, mine was. At the AWTF you will want to sit in your recruits platoon section the recruits for that platoon will be lined up in formation in front of that section when they enter the AWTF but before they do the Battalion Commander will speak to you about what your recruit has been through and then the recruits will march into the AWFT in their camies, you should have heard the roar from all of us family members.

INSIDE THE AWTF Parris Island SC Family Day

NOTE: You do not have to be a family member to attend the graduation. At the end of this the recruits will be released for liberty! At 3pm liberty ends. The recruits must reunite with their platoon and will practice for tomorrows graduation ceremony.

I stayed and watched the practice at one of the graduations. However, here is your chance to go explore. Besides it is just practice and exploring will take your mind off of tomorrow, you can't see your new Marine till tomorrow. Use your daylight hours and check out historic Beaufort, or drive a few mins to Hunting Island where the lighthouse is. It is a beautiful place. The Viet Nam scenes from the movie Forrest Gump where filmed there on Hunting Island.

Hunting Island Lighthouse

Hunting Island Lighthouse
Hunting Island Lighthouse | Source

http://www.southcarolinaparks.com/huntingisland/lighthouse.aspx

The lighthouse is the only historic lighthouse in South Carolina open to the public. It was closed by the time we got there and so we did not get to go inside. That is why I said go explore. You can eat after it gets dark. Historic Downtown Beaufort closes at 5 pm and most of the restaurants close at 9 pm on Thursday.

There were two restaurants that we ate at that were superb, and then there is also a Waffle House that is in Beaufort and it is open 24/7

My New Marines wanted to go home, they did not want to stay in South Carolina. So after the graduation we were outta there! I would have liked to stay another day or two but . . .


Source

Beauforts Woods Memorial Bridge was used in the movie Forrest Gump

In the movie when Forrest Gump goes on his cross-country run, he runs across the Woods Memorial Bridge, in downtown Beaufort.

RESTAURANTS

Beaufort has all the major restaurants that you probably have in your own town, remember you can eat there any time, but you can only eat at these restaurants here in South Carolina.

There were two exceptional ones I would like to recommend.

 

1) A lowcountry BACKYARD restaurant

And


2) the 11th Street Dockside restaurant in Port Royal, there are several Dockside restaurants but the one I am telling you about is the 11th Street Dockside. They are not the same!


A lowcountry BACKYARD restaurant

On Hilton Head Island there is restaurant that I would like to recommend!!

It is "A lowcountry backyard restaurant" and it has Moonshine!!

They Feature North Carolina Midnight Moonshine!

They also have Moonshine Punch or Lemonshine (moonshine & Lemonade)!

Nah I didn't get any moonshine but I thought about it, HE HE HE


I had "Dad’s Baked Chicken" it is marinated in dad's secret Italian seasonings, slow roasted and topped with its own gravy it was Served with choice of two side dishes and the cost was amazingly reasonable. It was the BEST CHICKEN I have ever eaten! EVER!!! Check out the menu at the link below.

http://www.hhbackyard.com/

Inside the 11th Street Dockside Restaurant

Inside the 11th Street Dockside Restaurant
Inside the 11th Street Dockside Restaurant | Source

http://www.11thstreetdockside.com/

You can see more pictures and the menu at 11thstreetdockside.com/

You can see the "WE MAKE MARINES" water tower on Parris Island  from the 11th Street Dockside
You can see the "WE MAKE MARINES" water tower on Parris Island from the 11th Street Dockside | Source

You can see the "WE MAKE MARINES" water tower on Parris Island from the 11th Street Dockside Restaurant. Talking about fresh!! The shrimp boats are right outside the restaurant at the dock. The shrimp served here was FRESH!! It was PLUMP!! It had the perfect taste and texture!! It was the BEST SHRIMP I have ever eaten!! EVER!!

11th Street Dockside Restaurant Shrimp boats
11th Street Dockside Restaurant Shrimp boats | Source

11th Street Dockside story

It was a cloudy day and the sun was about to set, as I stared across the water to the distant island, Parris Island where our recruit was spending their last day/night. I knew it was Parris Island; I could see one of the water towers that said, “We Make Marines” I thought of our recruit and wondered what they were doing? Tomorrow our recruit would graduate, they would be a Marine. As I sat there thinking of them I wondered what they were doing, packing, talking with fellow recruits making plans for their short time back into civilian world. Would they ever smile again? Had the Marine Corps driven the fun out of them. I remembered the fun loving person that they had been . Now all the photos I had seen of these young Marines, had the “Marine Face” Tough, strong, confident, unyielding, and even dangerous. Suddenly the suns rays burst through an opening in the cloudy sky. It blinded me for a moment as the streams of sunlight glittered on the water. It was a beautiful sight and etched a memory in my mind that will last a lifetime!

It made me realize that yes beneath that Marine Face was still a heart of love, joy, hope and faithful.

Forrest and Jenny's huge majestic live oak

If you'd like to see the huge majestic live oak featured in the movie it is located at the entrance to the Carolina Shores subdivision, near the end of Carolina Avenue. To get there, you first have to take Bruce K. Smalls Drive, which intersects with US 21 just shy of the Beaufort Marine Corps Air Station. I wanted to see it but did not have a chance too.

Sun Rise on the Atlantic in Hilton Head South Carolina

Sonesta Resort on Hilton Head Island

My first trip we stayed at the Sonesta Resort on Hilton Head Island. It is right on the beach! Well you have to walk about 2 blocks or less to the actual beach but it is right there! Its only about 15 miles from Parris Island, however, there is a lot of water between Hilton Head and Parris Island and the drive was almost an hour and a half. The Sonesta Resort has a huge outdoor swimming pool if you rather swim in a pool. I loved everything about it except the drive to Parris Island. I saw the sun rise one morning and other family members stayed up late to watch the moon rise. It was amazing!

http://www.sonesta.com/HiltonHeadIsland/

Beach at the Sonesta Resort on Hilton Head Island

Horseshoe crab on the beach at the Sonesta Resort on Hilton Head Island

Horseshoe crab Hilton Head Atlantic Ocean

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Hampton Inn

We also stayed at the Hampton Inn in Beaufort. It is on the water but not the beach. It is right behind the Waffle House. I tell you this because most of the signs are small and incorporated into the landscape to ensure a more natural visual effect. I may not have found it nestled in the waterside moss laden trees if I hadn't known it was behind the Waffle House . Don't get me wrong the Waffle House is pretty well hidden too. It was very majestic sitting on the waters edge enjoying the scenery.

Here is a site that tells you all about the Hampton Inn in Beaufort and what it has to offer.


http://www.hotels.com/ho129083/hampton-inn-beaufort-beaufort-united-states/


It is only a 15 min drive from here to Parris Island!!

Photo taken from the Hampton Inn in Beaufort, South Carolina
Photo taken from the Hampton Inn in Beaufort, South Carolina | Source

FRIDAY GRADUATION!!

Friday starts with the hoisting of the colors.

I did not attend the flag raising ceremony for either graduation, I heard a lot of compliments about it and I know several people attended as the entire Peatross Parade Decks main pavilion was already full of family members and guest. We sat in the bleachers on the right closest to the IWO JIMA statue. You will want to at least go through the main entrance at the Peatross Parade Deck where they will be giving out graduation programs. The programs not only give the sequence of events but will also list the names of all the graduates including the Platoon Honor Graduate and Platoon High Shooter, the drill instructors and others. It is a must have for all family members, get an extra one for your recruit, grandmother, best friend. Then if you have to, you can sit in the bleachers at then ends of the Peatross Parade Deck.. The graduates marched right past us and were almost close enough to reach out and touch. It was awesome! Our recruits had told us they could not leave the Parade Deck until a person from the family actually came out onto the Parade Deck and touched them. There will be a lot of people there. Who ever you send out to make contact be sure they know where to bring your Marine so that everyone can meet together.

Iwo Jima Statue

Iwo Jima Statue
Iwo Jima Statue | Source

IWO JIMA

Be sure to take a picture of your recruit/new Marine at this famous statue.

The best place to park is at the Douglas Visitor Center

The best place to park is at the Douglas Visitor Center you will have to walk a little ways but if you get pinned in the parking lot at the Peatross Parade Deck., well . . . we stayed about an hour or two to watch the graduation practice and there were people still trying to get out of the parking lot. I highly recommend not parking in the parking lot especially if you want to get out of there in less than an hour!


My Best Tips for Graduation Day!

1) Be sure you have bug guard and use it!

2) Park at or near the Douglas Visitor Center.

3) Go in to the Douglas Visitor Center and get a copy of the Boot Newspaper, its free.

4) Walk to the Peatross Parade Deck.

5) Enter the Peatross Parade Deck from the front center to get a graduation program.

Get one for Grandma and Auntie or who couldn’t come.




6) Find a seat and prepare to be amazed!!!


7) Take a picture with your new Marine at the IWO JIMA statue!


8) Pray everyday for your Marine and all of our military.


9) Enjoy life!!


Parris Island Marine Graduation Peatross Parade Deck
Parris Island Marine Graduation Peatross Parade Deck | Source
Photo taken from bleachers
Photo taken from bleachers | Source

MCX

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Comments 2 comments

Martin 3 years ago

Great work, this will deffinately help families when they go.


Sgt Mills 3 years ago

im giving this link to every parent from here on out..THANK YOU!

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