No matter where he goes, there are two titles Boyce Budd can never shake -- U.S. Marine and Olympic gold medalist.
It was his experience as a Marine recruit that Budd, 71, relived Thursday as he toured Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, where he graduated in 1963.
"So much of the recruit training back then was harassment," Budd said. "When I got here, I heard variations of a certain four-letter word that I had never dreamt of. I'm impressed with how much attention seems to be paid now to safety and to things as simple as making sure the recruits' boots fit right. They seem to understand that that Marine is the most important asset they have. Back then, we were just warm bodies."
Less than a year after graduating from Parris Island, Budd was selected to the U.S. Rowing Team and was on a team of eight oarsmen who won the gold medal in the 1964 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo. Budd's team is only one of two from the United States in the past 40 years to win the event, according to the U.S. Rowing Association.
Budd said the experience and confidence gained during his three-month stay at Parris Island proved invaluable in Tokyo.
"There's no question that at a place like this, you develop more confidence in your ability to overcome," Budd said. "There's a certain toughness that comes from this experience and it's not just physical toughness."
Budd was honorably discharged as a sergeant in 1968 and is now a town supervisor in Tinicum, Pa.
Budd was expected to dine Thursday night with the base's commanding general, Brig. Gen. Frederick Padilla, at Quarters One and will serve as the reviewing official of today's graduation ceremony.
"I have two captains and a drill instructor escorting me all over the base, anywhere I want to go, and I get to have dinner with the commanding general," Budd said. "I didn't even know there were generals when I was here. Parris Island was one of the most vivid experiences of my life, and to have all of those experiences revisited ... is a great deal of fun and makes me incredibly proud to be a U.S. Marine."