Parris Island: Making Marines for 100 years

A special report on the past and present of Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island on its 100th anniversary | Published Oct. 25, 2015

Sgt. John Eversley, a drill instructor at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, stands for a portrait on Friday, Oct. 9, 2015 on the base.
The Crucible
Survive it, and be called a US Marine
The DIs
An up-close look at Parris Island's central characters: Its drill instructors
The training
How recruits become Marines in 13 weeks
Ribbon Creek
This training tragedy changed boot camp forever
100 Facts
We've compiled 100 Parris Island facts for 100 years
100 years of recruits
Profiles of recruits from each decade
Your stories
Did you go through Parris Island? Share your stories
Parris Island has nothing if not traditions
How have they evolved? A gallery
What's there?
A point-by-point interactive tour
The barber
Meet the man who's been shaving heads for 50+ years
The base next door
David Lauderdale explores what makes Parris Island a good neighbor
The mystique
Parris Island crops up frequenly in pop culture
Big impact
Parris Island -- and WWII -- made Beaufort what it is today
Browse all the videos from this project here

The Crucible

The crying started the moment they dropped their heads in prayer.

These understandable emotions leaked out in a private morning ceremony after the recruits completed a grueling, 54-hour test to transform into Marines.

That test is called the Crucible. | CONTINUE

The Drill Instructors


Rise and shine.

It's time to make Marines.

For civilians sleeping like rocks, it's 3:15 a.m.

But Sgt. Kingsley Nwosu Jr. of Port Royal is not a civilian.

In fact, it's his job to transform civilians into Marines. | CONTINUE

The Training

Near the center of Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, there's a sign over Boulevard de France that plainly says what happens here: "We Make Marines."

For a century, Parris Island has fulfilled that mission, churning out men and woman hoping to proudly wear the Eagle, Globe and Anchor. Today, new recruits call Parris Island home for 13 weeks, undergoing arduous training and field tests that push recruits to their mental and physical limits.

Here's a look at how their time is spent. | CONTINUE

From Maggot to Marine

Ask any Marine trained at Parris Island about their time aboard the depot, and they will tell you about standing at attention -- thumbs along their trouser seams -- as swarms of sand gnats assault their eyes and ears.

They'll tell you about all manner of sordid insults and hardships, with a smile on their face.

Marines trained at Parris Island are proud of their shared history. Here are some of those stories, decade by decade. | CONTINUE


We're looking for a few good tales from boot camp. SHARE HERE

100 Facts for 100 Years

Learn about Parris Island's past and present with our colorful slideshow | GO THERE

The Traditions

Marines love traditions.

They get their first taste of them at Parris Island.

Here are some of the biggest. | CONTINUE

The Tour

The Barber

Mr. Johnson, affectionately known as "John D" to his Marines, has an upbeat, entertaining personality you have got to see. The 84-year-old Florence native credits his faith and a love of his work for 59 years -- and counting -- of getting haircuts

If you just listened to all the chatter inside the barber shop at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, it would be hard to tell that Stewart Johnson -- always joking and energetic -- began buzzing heads at the depot some 36 years before most of his Marine customers where even born. | CONTINUE

The uniforms

From the 19th century shako helmet to the modern dress blues, see how US Marine Corps dress has changed. | EXPLORE

Parris Island in art

From film to television to celebrity, here's a look at some of Parris Island's most famous forays into American pop culture. | READ