2 Marine veterans turned authors to sign books at Parris Island

mmcnab@beaufortgazette.comMarch 16, 2014 

  • Hilton Head Island book signing

    The Heritage Library Foundation will hold a book signing March 23 featuring Hilton Head Island resident William Carson, who will sign copies of his new book “Emancipation Procrastination.â€

Two Marine Corps veterans will sign copies of their nonfiction books featuring Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island on Wednesday on the base.

Veterans Eugene Alvarez and John C. Stevens III will be at the Parris Island Museum from 1 to 4 p.m. to sign copies of their books, "Parris Island: Once a Recruit, Always a Marine" by Alvarez and "Court-Martial at Parris Island" by Stevens. Both were written based on the authors' experiences on the base.

Alvarez's book, which highlights recruit training at the base now and in the past, is derived from firsthand accounts of recruits trained at Parris Island, according to a museum news release.

The book, written in 2007, is also based in part on Alvarez's time as a drill instructor at Parris Island. Alvarez, who served in the Marine Corps from 1950 to 1959, was twice a drill instructor there, museum spokeswoman Rebecca Smith said.

Along with stints at Parris Island, Alvarez fought with the 1st Marine Division in the Korean War. He was honorably discharged in 1959 as a staff sergeant, Smith said. After the Corps, Alvarez earned a doctorate from the University of Georgia and taught at Macon State College in Georgia, she said.

Stevens' book, which examines the 1956 Ribbon Creek incident at Parris Island and its aftermath, started as a doctoral dissertation during his studies of history and English at Washington State University, he said.

Led into Ribbon Creek by a drill instructor, six recruits drowned in the 1956 incident. The instructor, Staff Sgt. Matthew McKeon, was later found guilty in a court-martial for negligent homicide and drinking on duty.

Stevens said he arrived at Parris Island in June 1957 and was a witness to the changes in training made in response to the incident. A lawyer and judge after leaving the Corps, Stevens said he used his law experience to analyze the court-martial in the book.

Shortly after the book's release in 1999, Stevens -- who served in the Marines from 1957 to 1963 -- participated in his first book signing at Parris Island. The visit to the base and Beaufort eventually led him and his wife to move back to the area in 2006, he said.

Follow reporter Matt McNab at twitter.com/IPBG_Matt.

Related content:

From The Beacon: Books honor veterans past and present, Nov. 13, 2011

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