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Gifts For Your New Marine at Boot Camp Graduation

Updated on February 6, 2018

Congratulations to Your New Marine

Your son of daughter has decided to join the United States Marine Corp and their Boot Camp Graduation will be one of the most important days in lives aside from high school graduation and their wedding day.

Both you and your Marine survived thirteen weeks of boot camp, either at San Diego or Parris Island. It wasn't easy for either one. For your Marine they had their head shaved, everything personal taken from them and were stripped of their identity, broken down to the basic core of humanity and built back up.

When you see them they will carry themselves differently, stand taller, prouder, and you will cry when you see them for the first time. As a Mother of two Marines those thirteen weeks were spent more in worrying they wouldn't get hurt more than anything else.

The Marine drill instructors are tough, but for a reason. I went into the journey with a mindset my boys would benefit from the discipline, routine and regiment of hard physical and mental training.

So what do you bring a new Marine as a graduation gift?

(Photo: my son is second from left)

I Am a Proud Marine Mom

Me and my Marine son
Me and my Marine son

Proud Marine Corps Parent

As a Mother of two Marines, and one in boot camp, I can tell you attending your son or daughters Marine Corps graduation will be one of the proudest moments in life. It ranks right up there with your child's birth, high school graduation and wedding day.

In this day of instant communication and technology the thirteen weeks of waiting for letters to arrive to hear about your recruits experience in boot camp seems to just intensify the climax which comes when you can hug them on the parade deck on Family Day.

As parent you want to give your child support in any way possible and as the weeks in boot camp progressed the conversation turned to Family Day and graduation.

My question? What do you want?

The response I received was two pages of food he missed from MeMaws muffins, to Kit Kats and cheesecake.

Survived Boot Camp

What does a new Marine want?

So what do you bring to a Marine Corp graduation, do you bring your new Marine a gift to show him how proud you are of this occasion? You don't want to go empty handed.

Besides bringing their favorite food you will want to commemorate the occasion. I have been to two Marine Corps graduations and after listening to my boys and others the following items will make their day memorable.

Your new Marine will most likely have a love/hate relationship with boot camp. It is the hardest thing they have ever done in their life, both mentally and physically. They will either love their drill instructors, or never want to see them again in their life.

What they want most now is time with family, friends, and be able to eat real food, talk on their cell phone again, listen to music (and not drill cadences), and relax.

Electronic Gifts And Chargers

Anker 14W Dual-Port Solar Charger with PowerIQ Technology
Anker 14W Dual-Port Solar Charger with PowerIQ Technology

In this day of technology everyone has a smart phone, tablet or electronic device and Marines are no exception. Many are gamers and few read books unless they are on Kindles.

So how do they keep energy hungry devices charged in the field? Solar chargers. These are life and sanity savers to those deployed in the Middle East, or "sandbox". Great for anyone in the military who may not have access to a plug in to charge their phone to call home.


Most Popular Military G-Shock Watch

Casio G-Shock X-Large Display Stealth Black Watch (GA110-1B) - Water and Shock Resistant
Casio G-Shock X-Large Display Stealth Black Watch (GA110-1B) - Water and Shock Resistant

For the Marine who needs a tough, durable field time piece.

This Wrist Armor is suitable for deployments and all the harsh conditions the Marines can dish out with combat and everyday wear. The military green will blend with a Marines woodlands camouflage.

A percentage of the sales go back to the Marine Corps. This dual-time chronograph watch is stamped with the official Marine Corps logo and will serve your new Marine for years to come.


Marine Corps Watches - Military watches for servicemen

Marines have to be prompt and on time, there is no room for error and no excuse for being late. The first time you will see you Marine at graduation is during Liberty leave on Family Day. You cannot leave the base, but you can eat with them, shop, visit the Museum and spend the entire afternoon. BUT, they have to report back at 5:00 pm, no later.

Since the Marine Corps has a strict uniform policy nothing can be put into their uniform pockets, even though dress blue uniforms and service charlies have pockets. So how do they tell time when so many people depend on on their phones. In their sock.

Yes, you will see your new Marine reaching into his sock for his wallet, and they will ask you to carry their phone, otherwise it will have to be carried, or put in their sock. A wallet bulge in the back of their uniform does not look professional, as if checking the time when their phone is in their sock is practical or professional?

A wrist watch is not only a commemorative graduation gift but a practical gift for any Marine.

Food is Top on Their List - Doesn't matter where, all Marines eat lots of food

New Marine graduates have a ravenous appetite. I don't know what boot camp does to a recruits metabolism but to sit in the base restaurant and watch the new Marines eat will amaze and impress anyone.

My son sent us a list of food he wanted to eat when we picked him up. he ate so much food during Family Day and graduation I thought he would be sick. But he just kept packing it away and looking for more food. It's not that the Marines don't feed the recruits, it's just they burn so much energy during training.

Wild Bills Hickory Smoked Beef Jerky Strips, 30-Count, 15-Ounce
Wild Bills Hickory Smoked Beef Jerky Strips, 30-Count, 15-Ounce

Marines laugh at the Jack Links beef jerky. It's over processed, too salty, and in their opinion not real jerky. So whatever you do, don't get Jack Links jerky for a Marine, anytime, anywhere. Get the "real" custom made jerky from an independent meat packer.

Trust me on this one, they will love it and their fellow Marines will be jealous. There is a chance, okay, definite possibility they will share. Then you will be the favorite Mom in the platoon.

My son eating and eating at graduation
My son eating and eating at graduation

Food, Food, and More Food!!

They will eat, and eat, and eat...

It's not that the United States Marine Corps didn't feed your young man during boot camp, it's just he hasn't had a home cooked meal, or his favorite treats in thirteen weeks and the during the third phase (last 4 weeks) all the recruits seem to do is talk about food.

My youngest Marine son wrote pages and pages about food and even asked for me to bring specific food. Here are just a few ideas.

Beef jerky, chocolate, cookies, jerky, and more cookies. But I'm sure you won't need my ideas, your recruit has already sent you a list in a letter.

Bring a gift bag, or two and carry them around with you. There is a Marine rule, they can't eat, chew, and walk in uniform at the same time. So expect to stop a lot for snacking. We must of stopped every 15 minutes for him to eat, I'm not kidding!

Marine Challenge Coin

As you meet your new Marine coming off the parade deck give him a hug, shake his hand, and press a Marine Challenge coin in his hand as a sign of accomplishment and pride.

Marines collect Challenge coins as memorabilia for their accomplishments while in the Corps. For a job well done their commander might give them a coin out of the blue.

Make sure to also purchase a coin in the marketplace during graduation to represent their battalion and company. They will be specific to San Diego MCRD, or Paris Island MCRD. These can be purchased during Family Day and Marine Graduation day in the common shopping areas.

Core Values - U.S. Marines Challenge Coin…
Core Values - U.S. Marines Challenge Coin…

This United States Marine challenge coin is a good addition to start their collection.


Boot Camp Graduation - Finally a US Marine

There is no prouder moment than watching the newly graduated Marines march across the parade deck. Your hands will shake, your voice will grow hoarse and you will shed a few tears. My oldest son was in the honor platoon, which means they scored the most most in various competitions during boot camp.

They won both drill inspections and as you can see their marching was in perfect unison. I'm still proud and get goose bumps when I watch.

A Marine is Faithful - To God, Country, and the Corps

There is a saying there are no atheists in foxholes and I believe it wholeheartedly. Marines have the toughest training which will tear them down to their basic core. That's where God comes in. A recruit has no one to call on but his soul and he often finds God is a comfort. Chaplains are readily available during boot camp and every night in the barracks the recruits can attend a prayer group.

My youngest Marine did this and I know during boot camp his faith was strengthened.

HCSB Marine’s Bible, Burgundy Simulated Leather
HCSB Marine’s Bible, Burgundy Simulated Leather

A Marine Bible is special, inside are specific sections to encourage and give strength. Compact and small enough to pack in a duffel, this Bible contains inspiring quotes from famous Marines. Save this gift for a special moment when the conversation starts to turning to challenges.


Marine K-bar Knives - Marines Corps knives hold intrigue

There is a certain intrigue to military knives, it may be the raw hand to hand combat, or the history of a combat knife. But the K-bar military knife has a long history dating back to 1942 when the utility knife made by K-Bar became general issue in the Marine Corps.

In conjunction with the Marine Quartermaster the design was refined and became the standard not only for the Marines, but the Army, Coast Guard, Navy and Underwater demolition teams. At the end of World War II the popularity of the original USMC fighting knife became the favorite of adventures, outdoor sportsmen, and knife collectors.

KA-BAR Full Size US Marine Corps  Fighting Knife, Straight
KA-BAR Full Size US Marine Corps Fighting Knife, Straight

This USMC official combat knife is modeled after the original design and is a very popular gift of new Marines.

During boot camp recruits learn about Marine Corps history and the prestige that comes with the title of Marine is steeped in tradition. Many Marines collect knives. My son is no exception, he a case of various utility, pocket and folding knives in his "special" case.


Military Folding Knives - Top tactical knives for Marines

These knives are NOT your Swiss Army Knife your grandfather carried. These are military Fixed blade tactical knives meant for survival.

My son is just a little bit obsessed with them and has several in his collection, Gerber folding knives are his favorite. Marines like to bring them out, compare their length and show off, just a little. Their tactical knife collection is just one of the ways Marines show off. I won't list the other ways.

USMC Official Religious Medals - St Michael and St. Christopher Medals

Saint Michael the Archangel is considered the official Saint of the United States Marine Corps and many Catholic Marines and others wear this medallion as a good luck charm with their dog tags.

The symbol of St. Michael has been adopted by soldiers, paratroopers, and the police force.

St. Christopher saint is admired by Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians and is the patron saint of travelers, sailors and has been adopted by many in the Marine Corps and Navy.

Best Gift of All is Free

Your Love

It is said the best gifts of all are free/ Your love, a hug, your admiration, pride, and respect. Even if you were apprehensive about your childs choice to join the Corps graduation is not the time to voice those concerns or doubt.

Now is the time to show your pride and give that unconditional love they need right now.

Give Lots of



More Love,

Even more Hugs

Looks of Admiration,

....and more Love

If you are a Marine what gift do you wish you had received. If you're a parent what special gift did you give to your Marine?

Have you been to a Marine Graduation - What did you think?

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    • profile image

      Jeffrey McCarthy 

      4 years ago

      Look at the website

      Great gifts for those graduating!!!

    • Edward J. Palumbo profile image

      Ed Palumbo 

      4 years ago from Tualatin, OR

      Excellent suggestions! My parents were unable to attend my graduation at Parris Island, but I urge parents to do so. My wife, daughter and I attended by son's graduation from U.S. Navy recruit training at Great Lakes with the awareness he'd appreciate it. For the record, challenge coins were a rarity when I enlisted in the Corps in 1964, but I was introduced to the tradition by British Royal Marines. I am 67 years old now and still carry one of three challenge coins in my right front pocket or watch pocket.

    • DANCING COWGIRL profile image

      Dancing Cowgirl Design 

      4 years ago from Texas

      Congrats on your lens of the day. You should be very proud. These are some wonderful ideas that i would have never thought of and you did a great job designing that t-shirt. Best Wishes to you.

    • Brite-Ideas profile image

      Barbara Tremblay Cipak 

      4 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Congratulations on LOTD! that's wonderful and well deserved

    • delia-delia profile image


      4 years ago

      Congratulations on LOTD! Hurrra! Thank You to your dear sons for their Service!

    • writerkath profile image


      4 years ago

      My dad was a marine... Please, if you would, thank your wonderful sons for their service to our country! God bless!

    • Dressage Husband profile image

      Stephen J Parkin 

      4 years ago from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada

      I am neither a Marine nor have children that are. I am somewhat surprised to find that they are allowed to wear pendants as British Marines only wear their dog tags and a watch. At least that was the case when I was in the Army cadet corps.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Wow, Mother of two Marines. You must be very proud of them. Having had a son in the Army, I know that food is always a great choice when sending packages to them. And sending things is a great way to let them know that you are thinking of them, and support them. Great job Mom!!

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 

      4 years ago from Arkansas USA

      I still tear up even thinking about Marine Corps graduation (Army, too), even after all these years since my sons' graduation. The ceremonies are so special and so touching and it's such an emotional time. I love what you wrote about your son eating so much you thought he'd be sick. Same with ours! God bless all who have served, along with their families. Congratulations on your Lens of the Day today!

    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 

      4 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      Stopping by again to say Congratulations on Lens of the Day! It's a great lens. Do you feel the need to say Hoo-rah?

    • Roy Ringland profile image


      4 years ago from Northern Ireland

      My Friend is a Marine, This is very informative. Thanks!

    • tedwritesstuff24 profile image


      4 years ago

      What an interesting insight..

    • ThreeQuarters2Day profile imageAUTHOR

      Dawn Romine 

      4 years ago from Nebraska

      @shoopdj: So many forums and groups now tell parents NOT to call their sons/daughters Marines until graduation. It might cause you "attention" you don't want from the drill instructors. Thank you for your service.

    • RobertConnorIII profile image

      Robert Connor 

      4 years ago from Michigan

      nice lens

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      When I went to boot camp, my mother wrote a letter saying she was proud of her Marine. The DI asked, "Do you think you are a Marine scumbag"? I did pushups forever, it seemed, and had to let my mom know I wasn't a Marine until I graduated.

    • ThreeQuarters2Day profile imageAUTHOR

      Dawn Romine 

      4 years ago from Nebraska

      @Merrci: Thank you so much. I have learned so much in the past few years and as a Marine Mom I have to right the fence on not being too overbearing, not asking too many questions and be happy with what they tell me.

    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 

      4 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      I'm so proud of your son and all those who volunteer to serve. Thank him for me please, and thank you for your great attitude in it! Special lens with great suggestions.

    • ThreeQuarters2Day profile imageAUTHOR

      Dawn Romine 

      4 years ago from Nebraska

      @TJHousel: Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed it. Truly every new Marine will appreciate food from home. I couldn't believe how much he ate.

    • DawnRae64 profile image


      4 years ago from Maryland, USA

      I love this lens! The part about food made me laugh so hard. Oh so true! (I'm an army mom... food and baby wipes were always the best gifts) Great lens!

    • TJHousel profile image


      4 years ago from NE Ohio

      Great lens with fantastic ideas. I manage a page for a military boot company and I'm sharing this on our Facebook page tomorrow.

    • CampingmanNW profile image


      4 years ago

      I went to my son's bootcamp graduation and I must say I was very proud. It brought back many memories of my days of bootcamp and all that goes along with it. Definitely food and BBQ condiments for their first deployment. Thanks for sharing a great time today. UuuuRahhhhh...Semper Fi

    • ThreeQuarters2Day profile imageAUTHOR

      Dawn Romine 

      5 years ago from Nebraska

      @Brite-Ideas: Thanks, I greatly appreciate the comments.

    • ThreeQuarters2Day profile imageAUTHOR

      Dawn Romine 

      5 years ago from Nebraska

      @Nancy Hardin: Thanks Nancy for the comment. I didn't know you had Marine grandsons, I just took my oldest to Chicago this past weekend, his active duty is over and my youngest has three more years to go as an embassy guard.

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 

      5 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      I have two grandsons in the Marines, but never got to attend their graduation because of my health issues. They know how proud I am, because I kept in touch with them the entire time. I also have sent them gifts of food when they were deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Once a Marine, Always a Marine. Semper Fi!

    • Brite-Ideas profile image

      Barbara Tremblay Cipak 

      5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Wonderful idea for a page - I'm sure many people will find this a good reference for ideas

    • Old Navy Guy profile image

      Old Navy Guy 

      5 years ago

      UuuuhRah and Semper Fi

    • ThreeQuarters2Day profile imageAUTHOR

      Dawn Romine 

      5 years ago from Nebraska

      @anonymous: That's very true, my son ate and ate and ate on Family Day and when we left. Cheesecake, that's what he wanted.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I was in boot camp for nearly six months and all I wanted was Mc Donalds. That was the first thing I ate once I graduated.

    • ThreeQuarters2Day profile imageAUTHOR

      Dawn Romine 

      6 years ago from Nebraska

      @SusanDeppner: I know the feeling. I've never been so proud in my life. It's a feeling you can't even describe. Congratulations on having a Marine and tell him the same.

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 

      6 years ago from Arkansas USA

      @SusanDeppner: Oh, and please thank your sons for their service. I'm so proud for you, too!

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 

      6 years ago from Arkansas USA

      We attended our son's Marine Corps graduation at Parris Island and I cried almost the whole time we were there! I was so excited, so proud, and so happy to see him after all those weeks. Even now it's hard to watch the video you have here - such great memories! Semper Fi!

    • ThreeQuarters2Day profile imageAUTHOR

      Dawn Romine 

      6 years ago from Nebraska

      @anonymous: Thanks I will, and thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Tell your new Marine that you are very proud of him\her and glad that he\she volunteered to protect our freedom! Semper Fi!


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