Thousands of visitors flooded Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island to attend special events in celebration of the depot's centennial Oct. 14-16, 2015.
The depot was transferred from the Navy to the Marine Corps Nov. 1, 1915. The depot was known as Marine Barracks, Port Royal, and later as Marine Barracks, Paris Island, before becoming Parris Island in 1919.
New Marines from Charlie Company, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, and Oscar Company, 4th Recruit Training Battalion, graduated from recruit training during the depot's centennial celebration Oct. 16, 2015, and were nicknamed centennial Marines.
Gen. Robert Neller, commandant of the Marine Corps, speaks during a morning colors ceremony at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., Oct. 16, 2015. The depot is celebrating 100 years of making Marines. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Melissa Karnath)
“Being a Marine is something I always wanted to do but never could,” said Dashell Tout, whose son, Pvt. Austin Tout, from New Paris, Ohio, graduated with Platoon 1086. “Austin being a centennial Marine just makes his graduation and accomplishments even more special.”
During the three days of celebration, Marine veterans as well as family members and friends of graduating Marines flocked to the depot for the events. Leading off the special events Oct. 14 was a motivational run for permanent personnel of the depot led by Brig. Gen. Terry Williams, commanding general of the depot, and Sgt. Maj. Angela Maness, sergeant major of the depot. A second run led by the leadership of the depot and the Recruit Training Regiment took place the following morning for the new Marines graduating from recruit training Oct. 16.
Special events continued with the rededication of monuments and statues around the depot. The Iron Mike Monument, dedicated to Marines who died in World War I, was rededicated Oct. 15 by Col. John Peck, commanding officer of Headquarters and Service Battalion. The Drill Instructor Monument was rededicated Oct. 16 by Sgt. Maj. Nicholas A. Deabreu, sergeant major of Recruit Training Regiment. The Molly Marine Statue was also rededicated Oct. 16 by Sgt. Maj. Donna Dunbar, the sergeant major of 4th Recruit Training Battalion.
“Iron Mike embodies the warrior ethos instilled in all Marines,” said Peck. “Our illustrious heritage is preserved by passing on our traits, customs, courtesies and traditions. We strengthen our legacy for the next generation of Marines by rededicating this monument and honoring the history Iron Mike represents.”
Events continued with a morning colors ceremony followed by the graduation ceremony of the centennial Marines, attended by Gen. Robert Neller, commandant of the Marine Corps, and Sgt. Maj. Ronald Green, sergeant major of the Marine Corps. Neller served as the parade reviewing official at the graduation before a crowd who filled the bleachers with red and burgundy attire representing 1st and 4th Recruit Training Battalions respectively, cheering and clapping throughout the ceremony.
“It feels amazing to be a centennial Marine and a part of living history,” said Pfc. Emily Harris, who graduated with Platoon 4034.
Special events continued with the dedication of new exhibits at the Parris Island Museum and guest speakers at the base theatre to teach visitors and Marines about Parris Island's history.
The last day of celebration concluded with a performance by the Parris Island Marine Band before a crowd of hundreds of Marines, family members and veterans. The crowd applauded and cheered during the following performances by the Silent Drill Platoon and the Commandant's Own United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corps.
“The centennial offers a rare opportunity to take a look back [at our history],” said Sgt. Maj. Donna Dunbar, sergeant major of 4th Recruit Training Battalion. “It's an amazing celebration, and I'm happy to be a part of it.”
By U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Melissa Karnath
Marine Corps News
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