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US Marine Graduation Ceremony

Updated on August 5, 2013

Congratulations to a New Marine

There is so much to do on Family Day and Graduation Day. If you have a son at boot camp please read all the information - even if you only glance through it all quick - bookmark this page so you can refer back to it and the links listed at the bottom as you need them.

If as a parent you are yet to be overwhelmed with pride, you will be by the time the two day event is over. Yes, I said two day event. The first day is on Thursday, this is Family Day and it is just as important as the Graduation Ceremony on Friday. There are two locations that Marines go to boot camp; Paris Island and San Diego. This page focuses primarily on my son's graduation at Marine Corps Recruit Depot at San Diego. There are hundreds of sites available about Marines and all the aspects of it. So to give you a place to start I hope this page will give you the right links to find the answers you are looking for.

The challenge that these men and women went through in boot camp is more than any of us can conceive of unless we too have completed it. Each individual had to overcome their personal obstacles to complete the training of their mind, body, heart and soul. That said each deserves to have family and/or friends there to cheer for them. It is probably going to be one of the most important days in their lives and most want to share it with the people that are important to them - family & friends. Please do not automatically assume you cannot afford to go. I can provide tips to reduce your costs substantially AND there are organizations that help as many as they can who truly are not able to afford it. If you are able to donate to these causes PLEASE do. They always fall short of the need. See link at very bottom for "No Marine should stand alone"

There is a lot of info below but when you are ready the next page in

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Want Everyone to know ...

show your pride in your Marine

Show your pride and help support a great group at the same time. These products come directly from MarineParents/Cafepress store. Marineparents is an awesome group that provides support and more for Marines and their families. Wear your pride around town or when you go the graduation ceremony.

Marine Parents Inc.

I do not have any affiliation with Marine Parents Inc. and I do not get any referral pay for your purchases. All money goes to MarineParentsInc. for the great work they do.

When is Graduation?

The Few, The Proud and You

Your recruit probably left for boot camp on a Monday or Tuesday, this is the first week. Count off two more weeks, then if you have not received a phone call or other notice that your recruit wasn't able to continue boot camp it is PROBABLY safe to start making reservations. If either of you have any doubts you can always purchase refundable tickets.

Do nothing as far as airline tickets or reservations go until son has completed three weeks of boot camp. The final test will be the Crucible which won't happen until the week before graduation. The recruiter is always a good source for information if you have concerns. Not all recruits will make it through the first three weeks, some will for various reasons require a longer boot camp. Recruit Graduation Information Line - (619) 524-8383 If there is a pending issue or question.

Please don't worry too much, even when they whine and complain that they can't take it anymore. Your recruit will probably write letters to you that look just like the ones mine did. Scroll down to Letters Home to see what I mean. The slogan "The few, the proud.." is there for a reason.

Throughout boot camp these young men were recruits. They were not Marines. The Drill Instructors called them recruits. The recruits probably doubted their sanity a few times along the way about why they did this to themselves. Then they are sent into the Crucible. During the 54 hours that it takes to complete, they haven't slept more than 4 hours, they had 3 MRE meals and not one of them have showered since they started this final test.

They are learning teamwork, responsibility, night infiltration and they learn they can still do more than they thought they could. They also learned that they cannot do it alone. When they finish the Crucible they have to hike all the way back to the base. This usually takes help from each other.

They want food, shower and a place to lay down. Instead they will stand in formation there for over an hour to receive the emblem of a Marine and to hear the DI's say to them for the first time,
"YOU ARE A MARINE!" It is a once in a life time moment.

Crucible & EGA Ceremony Videos

Devil Dog Diary:

A day by day account of US Marine Corps training

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:

5.0 out of 5 stars A must read!!, January 5

The author does a superb job at personifying how a typical, unmotivated young man without direction is transformed into a strong, proud and dedicated United States Marine. Each page keeps you hanging on, eager to learn more about the boot camp experience. This book is a must read for all, especially a parent, recruiter, young person seeking their own path and all retired "devil dogs"Devil Dog Diary: A day by day account of US Marine Corps training

5.0 out of 5 stars Devil Dog Diary : A fantastic read!, January 3, 2008

Whether you are in the military or a civilian such as myself, this book gives a thorough and humorous view into the world of a Marine Corps Recruit. The author really takes you into his mind as you watch his transition from a rebel-rousing boy into a Marine Corps man! A must have book!!

MCRD Family Day Motivational Run

MCRD Family Day Motivational Run
MCRD Family Day Motivational Run

Family Day Itinerary

Thursday- Your new Marine in action, tour, & spend a few hours getting to know him again

I really cannot stress how important attending Thursday and Friday both are. I was able to go to both and even though it was REALLY hard for me for financial, career and personal reasons I knew it was something that had to be done. Especially after finding out that Darek's Dad wasn't going to be able to take time off work to attend. If you live close enough to drive you are very fortunate, I had to fly the week before Thanksgiving and I found many ways to be very frugal on this trip and since then I have also found since then organizations that try to help families who do not have the resources to go. I will share all the links and information on this page so keep reading. Don't forget to tell others to stop by too. If any link doesn't work, please let me know in the comments and I will get it corrected asap. Thank you.

The two days each have a separate purpose and they are wonderful, fun, entertaining, exciting and interactive! You even get several hours with your new Marine before they are allowed to leave and YOU WONT BELIEVE THE CHANGES THEY HAVE MADE!!! Not just the shaved head or the weight loss/gain. The way they talk, walk, stand, treating others, speaking to other Marines and parents.

Ooooh, it just makes you want to hug the drill instructors! There is a lot that happens and more to see and do and I will try to include as much as I can, but remember the links provided at the bottom of the page will also give more information, so this is intended to be an overview for you to get the whole picture and for your convenience.

There are rules and guidelines so be sure to review it for safety and to make your visit comfortable for all. Also, please be courteous to others around you. The part that bothered me the most were the parents who were rude, inconsiderate or obnoxious to people around them. We are all there for the same reason. Trust me if we work together we can ALL get great pictures and videos of our Marine. Would your new Marine be proud of your actions?

*Important Note: Due to some holiday schedules, including but not limited to Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, a handful of graduating classes will graduate on a Wednesday with family day on Tuesday. The same schedule will apply; substitute Tuesday for Thursday and Wednesday for Friday in the schedule below.

Thursday Starts Early:

6:30 a.m. Food Court at Exchange Courtyard opens.

7:00 AM Get there early because there will be a long line of cars waiting to get in the gates. Bring your DL or other Gov''t issued PICTURE ID. Minors accompanied by an adult don't need one, but if they have it bring it along. If you are driving a car it will be searched. Any luggage and bags can be removed and inspected. Always keep in mind this is a military base.

6:30-9:00 a.m. Family Breakfast (optional) Your Marine will not be joining you The Bay View Restaurant Shuttle pickup at the Theatre. Be sure to ask for "Friday Bucks" for a discount.

9:30 a.m. Briefing & Welcome by a Drill Instructor near the MCRD Command Museum. Family & friends learn the Do's and Don'ts for visitor's day. This is through the arches to the right of the parking area when you enter the main area.

10:30 a.m. Motivational Run Depot Theatre The "Moto Run" is your first opportunity to see your new Marine. They run in both directions; left to right then right to left. Best pictures can be taken if you remain in one spot, and always stay behind the marking lines. While we were there a child was almost hurt when he ran out onto the run area, can you imagine 50 Marines in formation unexpectedly stopping without someone telling them to? Not pretty. When this is over go get a seat in the bleachers according to your Marines platoon number. If you didn't know it before you will by now. Plan on having lunch with your Marine after 1:00 pm.

12:30-1:00 p.m. Liberty Formation Parade Deck aka Shepherd Field. Though not graduated; this ceremony marks your recruit becoming a U.S. Marine! This is when you want your video camera. If you don't own one, beg borrow and plead to borrow one. *I forgot to charge my battery ahead of time.

1:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. Liberty on the Depot Recruits must remain on the depot but are allowed to show you around and introduce you to other Marines they were with. Have lunch in the food court, meet other parents, buy momentos at the base mall, photos, visit the museum. *See the map below.

2:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m. Liberty Lunch The Bay View Restaurant Enjoy a relaxing lunch and meet the Drill Instructors. Shuttle pickups at Depot Theater, Command Museum, Marine Corps Store (mall)

2:30 p.m. Last Shuttle TO the Bay View Restaurant from the Theater

4:00 p.m. Last Shuttle FROM the Bay View Restaurant. Don't miss it.

4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m* Family Open House at Recreation Center. Meet other families. Learn about the MCCS (Marine Corps Community Services) programs for your new Marine. This is good information to have, but I have a link listed below.

6:00 p.m.** Liberty Ends Recruits must return to barracks, if he is late he graduates a WEEK FROM TOMORROW. Which means he no longer gets a 10 day leave. Say goodbye and see you tomorrow.

* * Your recruit will know what time he needs to return. I suggest you let them head back a little early as they have a lot to do and may need a few minutes alone before their DI's show up. The times will vary from summer to winter months. BE AWARE IF HE IS BACK EVEN ONE SECOND LATE HE WILL NOT GRADUATE TOMORROW! He will graduate the next Friday - which means he may not get a 10 day leave. They are VERY strict about this.

Graduation Day Itinerary

Friday - Recruit becomes Marine and is released for leave

Friday Schedule

If possible plan to attend the color ceremony.

For graduation, the depot schedule suggests arriving at the reviewing stands by 9:30 a.m. and to be seated by 9:45 a.m., however, the stands fill up earlier on Friday so it's recommended that you obtain your seats by 8:45 if you want to be in the same or approximate seat you had on Thursday. After graduation, you may stay and visit the Depot, have lunch, and continue shopping.

6:30 Food court at Exchange opens - Coffee shop!!

6:30 a.m.- 9:00 a.m. Breakfast Buffet (optional) Bay View Restaurant

7:00 a.m. Arrive at depot and walk to Command HQ on the other end of the Parade deck - You can see the dome of the building and a flag by it. It is about 6 football fields away from gate 5 where you arrive.

8:00 a.m. Colors Ceremony Parade Deck Raising of the flags. Performances by the Marine Band and Color Guard. This ONLY happens on Friday graduation days.

8:30-9:30 a.m. Arrive at Reviewing Stands bleachers - if you have a video camera sit at the top of the bleachers to get the best shots across the entire parade.

10:00 a.m.Graduation Ceremony Parade Deck The main event! The bleachers are marked with platoon numbers, sit in the stands for your recruits platoon.

11:00 approx. Marines are released from depot.This is a good time to make any final tax free purchases.

11 a.m.- 1:00 p.m. Hot Lunch Buffet (Optional) Bay View Restaurant New Marines

eat free.

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Shopping At The Depot Mall

Things to be sure you don't miss

Whether on Thursday or Friday there are a few things you and your Marine will want to do before you leave the base:

1. The first place to go is FOOD!! Most of the Marines my son knew headed straight to the A&W restaurant in the food court. There are a variety of restaurants within the food court including an Italian Deli, Pizzeria, Mongolian and a coffee shop, and maybe another one or two. The food at A&W and the Deli were very good when we were there. Plan on standing in line, though they got us through really quickly. Darek hit the A&W first then went to the Deli for a second plate with something a little healthier. He had been starved for the last 3 months and had lost about 50 lbs!! When he left book camp he was a trim 230 lbs.

2. If your Marine ordered the photo package you will need to get in line to pick them up or he may give them to you if he already got them. If he did not order the platoon picture they are available at a stand in the mall area. You can also order pictures, video and year books online once you get home.

3. There are several places on MCRD San Diego to purchase souvenirs and other Marine Corps memorabilia. The Marine Corps Exchange (department store) has a large selection of items for civilians to shop in. Without a Department of Defense ID card, however, civilians are limited to that section.

The really awesome part is that there is no sales tax on these items! My son bought an ipod for a great price and no tax either. The 7-Day Store is a convenience/grocery/personal care store.

4. The Museum Gift Shop is located inside the Command Museum. Be sure to check this out they have some really wonderful displays and history. I am usually not interested in this type of entertainment but even I was intrigued.


Click on the map to open the link to a map of the San Diego MCRD. The MCRD museum will have these available onsite. This is just to give you an idea of the general layout.

Parking is allowed on the East side of the parade grounds. Barracks are west of the Parade grounds - no civilians allowed in this area or past the north parking area.

The mall, food court and stores are shown on the map between the flagpole and gate 4.

DIRECTIONS TO BASE: Generally speaking--MCRD SD is North of Downtown San Diego off of Interstate 5 either Washington St or Old Town Ave. Another steering feature is the Recruit Depot shares a border with San Diego International Airport--we are on the NNE side of the airport. From the airport take I-5 N and exit Washington St or the Old Town exit just N on I-5 of the Washington St exit. For both exits, visitors will need to cross under/over I -5 to get to the correct side. Washington Street is a strait shot into the back gate after you go under I-5 at the first stop light(left). From Old Town exit take a left at the stop light to go over I-5 then another left at the end of the bridge. Go to the next stop sign take a right and this will lead to the Main Gate at MCRD.

From I-5 N take the Old Town exit or further south to the Washington St. exit.

From I-8 West bound Take I-5 south exit then Old Town exit or Washington Street exit.

Rules and Regulations

Suggestions and Requirements while at MCRD

There are a million things that you will want to know and the DI's will tell you most of them. Some you should know before you get there though.


Say Congratulations, God Bless, thank you etc to other Marines! Especially those who do not have family with them. If your Marine knows of another without family there, offer to bring them to eat with you or whatever.

Never litter - even cigarettes should be properly disposed of.

Smoke only in the parking lot - never anywhere else especially if your Marine is with you!

Wear comfortable walking shoes & clothes. It is cool at night even to a Wisconsinite!

If you have trouble walking, or walking for long bring a wheelchair or scooter. * see alternative mobility link at bottom for info

If its raining everything will be indoors and there will NOT be enough room for everyone.

Bring cash too - not all vendors in the mall outdoor market take credit/debit cards

Charge & bring extra batteries & lots of extra film with you.

Be courteous to other family & friends - you may not know them but your son might know their Marine.

Verify with the hotel arrangements for the shuttle BEFORE booking - not all hotels have MCRD shuttle and some have a waiting list for the service. Know the times it runs to MCRD & airport.

If you want to fly home with your son - plan it through the mail the before the 10th week or book it for him and send him the itinerary.


Anyone over 18 MUST have Gov't issued picture ID

Right hand is reserved: Your new Marine will escort you with his left arm to reserve his right hand for saluting higher-ranking Marines. He MUST be able to salute them.

NEVER walk across the parade ground! This is almost a sacred area and the DI's WILL notice.

Vehicles can and will be searched

Auto passengers must wear seatbelts - you will get a ticket

Do Not step past the lines marked for visitors, it is rude to others and DANGEROUS

Remember you are a guest and this has been your son's home for the last 3 months.

The DI's are your son's boss/employer and he knows your son better now than you do. My son has seen his DI's several times since finishing boot camp.

Your son still isn't perfect, but he is better for what he has & voice your enthusiasm!

Coming soon!

Specifics for ASVAB Preparation

Specifics for Military fitness

Reserve vs active duty

What's in that paper you are signing?

Prepare to leave civilian life

How to survive boot camp

What's after boot camp?

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The picture is of Darek after released from Depot. We went to the beach at the end of Garnet street. He wanted to get a tattoo to commemorate his service in the Marines. The tat is really awesome, though I am not showing it yet since the only pics I have are when it is still very raw. Which is why he is in the t-shirt in this picture. The artist did a really fantastic job though!

Is there a subject you want more information about?

Do you have questions about the Marines?

Let me know what you think.

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    • profile image

      Brooklyn 324 2 years ago

      THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS!!!! My boyfriend is graduating very soon from boot camp and I have been reading everything I can find on how everything runs and this site has been by far the most helpful!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Hello. I found your Lens very informative and would like to feature it on a website I run for future Marines. If you can contact me this would be great. You can contact me here or at my email: If you can remove this message once you have read it, this would be much appreciated.

    • sandys5324 profile image

      sandys5324 4 years ago

      @cherieannk: For those who want to support other Marines I would suggest that you look into the website they do have great information and useful tools. I know that there is a fund to help people who cannot afford the cost of getting to the ceremony. Otherwise check out the forums for other info.

    • sandys5324 profile image

      sandys5324 4 years ago

      @ThreeQuarters2Day: updated information is always useful - Any changes to the program or procedures? Where dd you stay and what activities did you do while there? Did you fly or drive to the ceremony? I would be happy to add or update any info that you - or anyone else can provide. Thanks for the comments and the Kudos! Much appreciated.

    • ThreeQuarters2Day profile image

      Dawn Romine 4 years ago from Nebraska

      I've been to two Marine graduations as I have two sons who are Marines. You did a great job on this lens, I was going to write one on this subject, but I don't know how I could improve it.

    • profile image

      cherieannk 5 years ago

      @anonymous: My nephew graduates Nov.21st, I've read all the rules and want to be perpared for a memorable times. We will have seven people coming and would love to suport other recuits without family attending is there a contact person or do we just wait until that day?

    • sandys5324 profile image

      sandys5324 5 years ago

      Thank you to everyone on here and all those serving our country. God Bless all of you. I apologize I have not kept up with the posts but I will do better and will be adding some of the promised info too. If anyone has gone recently and has other suggestions to add or notes about changes PLEASE let me know. Accurate info is the best! Thank you all again!

    • sandys5324 profile image

      sandys5324 5 years ago

      @anonymous: He can come home with you (last I checked) but he will know when the time comes. Again book the flight with insurance and you can use the ticket another time, there is always SOI and other trainings around the country.

    • sandys5324 profile image

      sandys5324 5 years ago

      @anonymous: go to the marine forums - parentofmarine website and log into an account and you will find all kinds of people sharing your experience. Use shuttles whenever possible and VERIFY that your hotel has a shuttle and hours of operation!

    • sandys5324 profile image

      sandys5324 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Do not book flights until he tells you he is graduating or get insurance on the flight so you can change the date. If he gets an infraction, breaks a leg/arm, gets sick or doesn't make it you will be trying out that cost. I had to wait until right before thanksgiving weekend to buy my tickets for holiday travel - not cheap. Insurance would probably been cheaper. The best time to book flights is after midnight... sorry took so long to post.

    • sunny saib profile image

      sunny saib 5 years ago

      great lens.. i have always had a curiosity toward marine training and culture.. and i must say, the DO and DON'T points are given like a marine.. salutes!

    • profile image

      Fit_Over_40_Buzz 7 years ago

      I just found your lens. I like it a lot. Thanks for building it. Gave you a thumbs up

    • sandys5324 profile image

      sandys5324 7 years ago

      @anonymous: I hope a late answer might help others anyway... Depending on the kids yes/no. I saw many there and some were fine but others were not. You have to sit for a long time. You have to walk a long ways, you stand and wait for a long time...

    • sandys5324 profile image

      sandys5324 7 years ago

      @anonymous: Do not write anything that you would not want read out loud and don't send pictures that Grandma should not see. The pics are all displayed for everyone - if found.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Congrats! on your sons graduation. I know he was proud, proud of his accomplishment and proud that you were able to watch him receive his Eagle, Globe and Anchor. My parents weren't able to attend, my dad was dying of cancer and my mom was working to help pay the bills. I graduated and received my Eagle, Globe and Anchor in 1972 just before I turned 18. Damn, that was 38 years ago. Semper Fi

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      We are thinking of taking our 7 year old twin girls to boot camp graduation. Do you think it's a good idea for kids to come?

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      My nephew graduates in a couple of weeks. I was looking for information about Family Day and Graduation (what to wear, where to go, etc) and I found everything I needed here! This is a wonderful site! Thank you so much!

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      do the recruiters read the letters we send the recriuts? my boyfriend is in boot camp now and i want to know if i can send him letters.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Go Marines !!! Many Boy Scouts grow up to join the military. Check out my lens - Character Counts! I'm gonna lensroll with your site ! 5 Stars!

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      My son leaves for San Diego next week. Any suggestions as for how far out I can schedule hotel/air reservations for graduation? I have 10 people wanting to come to my son's graduation and don't know if i should go ahead and plan things now or wait.


    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Hi, my boyfriends graduating on june 5th and i was wondering if anyone was interested in sharing a cab or shuttle so its cheaper. its $69 for up to 4 people. im getting to the airport at 530 on june 3rd. anyone interested let me know.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Hi, My husband is in USMC boot camp in Parris Island. He graduate June 5th and it cannot come soon enough. I just had a question I am obviously coming down for family day and graduation. He is able to come home for 10 day leave, is he able to drive home with me or does he have to come home solo?

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      My son is currently in boot camp at Parris Island SC he graduation ceremony will be April 24th and I wouldn't miss it for the world. I am so proud of him and the sacrifice he is willing to make for his country. I miss him terribly and can't wait to see him.

    • profile image

      Sojourn 8 years ago

      A sweet story but also packed with useful information. Congrats to both of you :)

    • sandys5324 profile image

      sandys5324 8 years ago

      [in reply to Lizett] Congratulations! Tell him thank you from all of us. I hope my sites are helpful in planning for your trip.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      My son is in boot camp to become a Marine. I am so prod of him. I will be there for his gradustion in April 17. 2009

      Lizett P.

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 8 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      My husband was a Marine. They are a special group.

    • sandys5324 profile image

      sandys5324 8 years ago

      I have not kept track of my steps too well lately and I cannot remember if I said thank you for visiting and leaving comments. Darek will be home on the 26th so I will be showing him all this within a few days. I know your comments will mean a lot to him.

      Thank you!

    • TimeHacker profile image

      TimeHacker 8 years ago

      It must be hard to have son with Marines, it's very dangerous 'job' I guess.

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 8 years ago

      Two of my brothers were marines. I made it to one graduation. It was awesome.

      Great lens