Iron Mike: Who Is He?
(May 17, 2011)
MCRD PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. (5/13/2011) -- Several signs line the streets
of Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island bearing the image of his
silhouette, which also provides the cover art for informational
pamphlets about the depot. But who is this iconic figure returning
victorious from enemy lines, pointing a pistol at the sky with a machine
gun slung over his right shoulder?
MCRD PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. (May 1, 2011) --
Iron Mike, officially known as Monument to U.S. Marines, stands
8-feet tall at the intersection of Boulevard De France and Santo
Domingo Street. Iron Mike has watched over Parris Island for almost
Standing at nearly eight feet from the sole of his boot to the
muzzle of his pistol, Iron Mike, as he's known around here, stands
his post at the intersection of Boulevard de France and Santo
“In many ways [Iron Mike] is the symbol of
Parris Island and has been so since the 1920s,” said Stephen Wise,
curator of the Parris Island Museum.
The official name of the
statue is Monument to U.S. Marines, and the origin of the name Iron
Mike is unknown.
Dedicated on July 25, 1924, Iron Mike was
erected in honor of the Marines who trained at Parris Island and
went on to die in World War I. The ceremony was presided over by
then Maj. Gen. John A. Lejeune, the 13th commandant of the Marine
“[Iron Mike] helps every Marine that walks by remember the sacrifices of
those that went before,” Wise said. “It lets you know that you weren't
the first and helps in understanding the heritage and culture of the
The plaque mounted on the base holds an
inscription reading, “In memory of the men of Parris Island who gave
their lives in the World War, erected by their comrades.”
statue is important because it's the Marine Corps' history,” said Aulton
Kohn, a museum technician at the Parris Island Museum. “The Marines who
Iron Mike commemorates paved the way. Without them, who knows where the
Marine Corps would be now.”
Iron Mike was first cast in bronze in
1923 by a sculptor named Robert Ingersoll Aitken. Aitken was a U.S. Army
veteran of World War I and served with Machine Gun Company, 306th
Iron Mike was originally located in the area
behind the current tailor shop. Due to construction around Parris
Island, Iron Mike was relocated in 1941 to his current location. Depot
leaders at the time wanted to keep Iron Mike toward the center of the
base, according to Wise.
“For the families that visit every week,
who may not know anything about the Corps' history, Iron Mike gives them
a view of the Marines that came before,” Kohn said.
nearly 87 years, Iron Mike has withstood hurricanes and heat waves. He
has watched recruits train and graduate for several generations and will
continue to do so for the ones to come.
Article and photo By USMC Cpl. J Nava
Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island
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