Best Memories of Parris Island

I grew up as a Marine. My late grandpa, a retired MSgt, always shared with me and my siblings the places, stories and lore of the Corps throughout his service in WWII, Korea and Viet Nam. He was a bad-ass, not-so-lean, but green and mean 5’6″ Marine. He was as old school as they get. He went to PI back when they ferried recruits in. My father, a retired Gunny, served twice in Viet Nam in 1st Marine Division. While he did go to boot camp at San Diego, he served two tours as a DI and Senior DI at Parris Island. My family bounced around the country quite a bit over his 20+ years in the Corps, but our time at PI constituted some of my most formative years. It was kind of strange now that I look back at it, knowing dad as the loving, kind and wise soul of a father but also witnessing him as the hard-as-nails, in your face, barking bad ass DI that humbles everyone. All of those memories served me well when I went through PI at the tender young age of 17. When I got my ass chewed, I knew it wasn’t personal. That DI in my face was yelling at a tree like he did in DI school (yes, I’ve seen that too). But I knew that DI still instilled the fear of God and Chesty Puller into my soul. He was doing his job to make me a Marine. My brother and I both proudly made it through Parris Island. I even came out with a meritorious PFC. I almost made it through without any of my DI’s knowing of my family history, but was found out the week before graduation. One of my DI’s saw a plaque in A Company HQ with my father’s name. It’s an unusual name so he connected the dots, and that was all it took to make my last week there a living hell. Well, on grad day after the ceremony, it was the coolest thing in life to see my DI’s and Senior DI lock it up and present themselves to my father and grandpa, who both came in their dress blues, adorned with their chests full of medal. That was my second-best memory at Parris Island back in ‘81. But my absolute best memory of Parris Island came years later, when my oldest son graduated in ’09. Seeing him out front as a PFC squad leader on the parade deck, knowing that he was carrying on the family tradition (the family business, as he refers to it) was absolutely awesome. He went on to serve in Afghanistan. He returned a hero and is now retired. Every time I go back to PI, I walk away with an even keener sense of what my family’s history is and what I hope it continues to be. We are Marines.
Sgt Grit wants to hear from you! Leave your comments below or submit your own story!


  • Rudy Romo

    In reply to Thearle James Lacey.
    Semper Fidelis, Thearle. Thank you.

  • Thearle James Lacey

    Went through PI in 1961. We have a large Marine family. My Dad was in the Pac. Fleet and served at Guadalcanal et al. He passed 1959 after years of suffering from wounds and disease during tenure. Then there was me 1961-1962, broken back four places at time of Cuban Missle Crisis, then my middle son, John who graduated 1995 from SD. I also have two (step) Grandsons now serving at Camp Lejeune after graduating from PI about a year apart. So, that’s five altogether. I entered PI a year after my father’s passing being sworn in when I was still 16. Then I was sworn in at my 17th birthday a few months later and again at Logan Airport at the time of my first airplane ride. We were sworn in again at PI. I volunteered for service, quitting school going into my Senior year. I’m not sorry I did for had I not done so, I can’t say what kind of person I would have been today. My father was strict so experiencing the DI’s wasn’t that much difference and sorely needed. I learned how to survive in this world being on my own. I’m ever grateful to SSgt Rushing/SDI and Sgt Patterson/ADI.

  • Harry

    This is the kind of story that keeps me coming back every week!! Great story!! I love it!! BIG SEMPER FI!!Harry USMC 67-70.

  • Sgt Robert L Sisson

    In reply to Robert H Bliss.
    I went to P.I. July 9th 1968 Platoon 293

  • Rudy Romo

    In reply to Sgt Ted K. Shimono.
    Yes we are, Sgt Shimono. Ooh-f’n-rah to you, your grandson and great grandson. All my best and prayers to you and your Marines.

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