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Military

By USMC Cpl. J Nava

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Iron Mike: Who Is He?
(May 17, 2011)

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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 87 years.
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 87 years.
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 Domingo Street.

“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 Corps.
“[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 Marine Corps.”

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.”

“This 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 Infantry Regiment.

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.

Standing for 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
Copyright 2011

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