Parris Island Experiences

Parris Island Experiences

You requested stories of PI experiences. Here are a couple of mind benders, not physical incidents but nevertheless, shook us up. We polished our dress shoes for weeks, never wore them with greens until late in the program. We were told to put on the dress shoes one evening when dressing for chow. On the way I guess we were all looking down at our spit shines, bobbing along. We were halted, told to bow our heads and stare at our shoes for a few minutes before going on to the mess hall. Another time we must have been slow in getting into greens for chow or the squad bay was messed up, because we had to go back in change into utilities with field jackets. Too slow, back again, get into greens with overcoat. In ranks we were told to open the overcoats. Some guys did not have their blouses buttoned. Back into the barracks, change again. We did this about 7 or 8 times before going to chow. Once there Sgt Brown announced that after chow we were going to the movies. However, before that we were to take a test on the M1. There were 75 of us in the Platoon. We could have 10 incorrect answers among us. Needless to say we did not go to the movies and I doubt that we would have regardless of the test results. We were near the end of the 8-weeks and when getting into greens for chow we were instructed to put our emblems on our covers and jacket lapels (Ike or Battle Jacket). While in line waiting our turn to enter the mess hall, another DI came over to our DI and berated him for allowing us to wear emblems when we were not yet MARINES, Sgt Brown made some excuse and told us to remove the emblems and put away until graduation. It was a cold January and February, puddles exposed to the sun did not thaw. We rarely wore field jackets or gloves, just our cotton utilities, no great flannel shirts that hung in the squad bay. One morning in a weak moment of compassion, while in ranks waiting to get in the mess hall for breakfast, we were called to attention, given the "at ease" command, cross our arms over our chest and put our hands in our arm pits. Other than a very few times did any of our DI's do anything physical to anyone in the platoon.

We were an older group, most had been out of high school a while, some in college, etc. Most probably enlisted to avoid the draft. I got my notice while in Boot. This was Plt 19, Second Bn, graduating about the first week of March, 1951. We were an honor platoon, of course. The photos are of Risher, Starling, Dean and Barton, all from Charleston, S.C. If I recall correctly. A fantastic experience and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Semper Fi,
Jim Black XXX0806
'51-'54 S/Sgt

P.S. The photos were taken the last Sunday at PI. I am sure that my camera was not available before that. We are washing clothes on concrete wash racks with cold water and scrub brushes, hung up with tie-ties (short pieces of twine), all from our bucket issue. If one did not go to church you had more free time to wash and not be bothered by you know who.

24 thoughts on “Parris Island Experiences”

  1. Dear Jim. What the hell is that pouch on the recruit in the foreground’s rear end?

    1. That was a rear pocket. During Korea some troops were issued what we called “grenadier” utilities. Jacket and trousers had large pockets . . . to hold grenades.

  2. We went through the same scenario in 65 at P.I. I can’t recall how we hung our clothes after hand washing them on the cement wash tables.

  3. Jack Emr we were marching at right shoulder arms for I don’t know how long but my arm was killing me. I tought the drill instructor couldn’t see me so I shook my right hand and he caught me. He stopped the platoon and said term do you see that cigarette but across the parade ground well go get on the double. Iran across the parade field and hunted for a butt (PI rarely had butts they were mostly field stripped) but as luck would have it I found one. Ran my you know what of to bring him that butt. When l got there and presented the butt he looked at and said I don’t smoke lucky strikes go back and find my brand.

    1. our D I came i lost my pall malls anyone find it put his campain hat on deck walk out for 2 min com back in it was filled with p.m s

  4. We had a D I who whenever we did something so (outstanding) at the time, it would become time to do some extra pt, like squat thrust, he would pull a chair out of the duty hut, have a seat have a can of something cold to drink and tell us to begin and not stop until he had a ring of sweat around him, this would be made by the cold wet can of drink. but it never made it around him because of the blacktop and MCRD SD sun, what fun. I also recall getting to go to the movie picture show on base while in boot camp and see the latest best movie ever made at the time, Hall of Montezuma. We stood at parade rest by our seats the whole movie.

  5. Do you remember the smoking circle there at 1st.battalion by the swamp, with the bucket for the ashes.

      1. They gave you a carton of smokes so after about 3 or 4 days I asked if we could have a smoke break sgt Jackson said all of you that smoke grab your smokes and matches an stand at parade rest around the cement wash tables. Hold your cigarette between your fingers and hold your arm out in front of you he would come around and break your cigarette an say now you have had your smoke break back up stairs

  6. Anyone 1 st battalion plt 165 graduated July 1, 1969 DI’s SSgt. Knight–SSgt. Anderson–Sgt. Cruz–Sgt. Maxwell

  7. I arrived at PI on 19 June, ’60. And my damn inability to keep from laughing kept me in trouble. I got a little better as time went on, but not perfect. I think I just got better at hiding it. I was in platoon 152. SSgt. Davis was the SDI, Sgt.McCall was a JDI and we had several different additional JDI’s. One that was with us more than others was SSgt. Wasielewski. After our platoon he was going to retire and he was very easy on the recruits. It was said he didn’t want any problems that would get in the way of retiring. We were in the 1st BN and one day we were on the grinder practicing 8 man drill. The recruit next to me was Bobby Qualis who the DI’s called ‘Squirrely’, but I thought he was a good man and he always tried hard. We were in formation standing at attention and suddenly I saw Sgt. McCall coming at a hard pace right toward me or, so I thought. When Mac was just a few paces away I figured I had it because I had been grinning because of something the DI said. I closed my eyes, tightened up my abs and prepared to get knocked down. Then I heard a chrome dome (the silver helmet lining we wore) go flying and hit the ground, an M1 hit the ground, etc. Then McCall was screaming at Qualis and I realized I had gotten over. I felt bad for Bobby, but I was sure glad he missed me. Bobby had been laughing I guess and Mac saw it. On another occasion the whole platoon had a heat rash and on the way to the rifle range Mac stopped the platoon and told me to get into the sick bay on the double and get some lotion for everyone. I moved out on the double and politely asked the Navy guy on duty for the lotion, explaining that my DI had sent me in and the platoon was outside waiting. He wouldn’t give it to me. I came back out, got back in formation, and Sgt McCall asked me what happened, looking none to pleased. I said, “the damn swabee wouldn’t give it to me.” The next thing I know Mac whacked Qualis for laughing. Qualis said he wasn’t laughing, but heavin”. That got Mac even madder and he let Qualis have it again. I had never heard the expression ‘heavin’ (or heaving) and I asked several of men from the South and they explained it was an expression that meant you were breathing hard. Guys that was 56 years ago and my memory isn’t what is used to be so square me away on the definition if I am recalling it incorrectly. It seemed Qualis and I were in competition for getting in trouble for laughing. Near the end of boot camp the sand fleas arrived and they were miserable, but as we all know—don’t get caught swatting one of them. For some reason our DI put us chest to back outside the chow hall waiting our turn to enter.. We hadn’t done that pushing up against one another since the first week of boot camp. The guy in front of me had a sand flea crawling on his ear and I could see him twitching so I took a deep breath and blew it off. He whispered ‘Thanks’. I can’t tell you why, but I was grinning. We were stacked so close together that I didn’t think anyone could see me. I was half way to side walk from the front door of the mess hall. Suddenly a DI from another platoon in our series, who was standing between the mess hall door and the first recruit in line, leaned out to one side and said, ‘Alpert your grinning again?’ I wouldn’t dare deny it so I shouted out, ‘Yes sir,’ At which time he said, ‘Boy, you must’ve been laughing when Christ was crucified.’ I figured the best thing I could do was agree with him so I again said yes sir and the men started laughing . He told them to shut up and of course they did. I was surprised I didn’t get knocked around for it, but I always managed to get my share of kicks, slaps and punches so I didn’t feel bad that I caught a break that day. Of course those stories are just a tiny bit of what happened, but I can say with all honestly I am very sorry I didn’t stay in for a career. I loved the Marine Corps and it the best thing I ever did in my entire life There was no one like Sgt. McCall and he made a man out of me and I am forever grateful. I mentioned previously in another posting that 33 years after boot camp I asked the Commandant, General Mundy to forward a letter of gratitude to Mac for me and he did. I am only sorry I never heard back from him. Mac was a stand up guy and a great Marine who was as squared away as anyone could ever be in the Corps. Semper Fi and good health to all of you Marines out there and God Bless America.

  8. Parris Island, November, 1957…..1st Battalion…..Platoon 309…..was issued boon dockers and boots and brown own dress shoes….all two sizes too large…..Had to wear them for two years until my sea bag, along with several others were thrown off the fantail of the USNS Barett enroute to Camp H. M. Smith, Oahu, Hawaii. I had the 0400 to 0800 fantail guard duty, and witnessed my shipmates pitching them into the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean, not knowing that one of them was mine! Seems that if all gear in the troop berth area had to be off the deck or it would be deep sixed!!! To this day I am disappointed that my fellow Marines didn’t cover our asses when all it would take was to pick up our sea bags and lay them on our bunks…..especially when they knew I had the Watch!…..anyway, after reporting for duty in 1st ANGLICO I was re-issued used gear….( I swear one of my utility jackets had a bullet hole in it) Spending the next two years in my new outfit (company, not uniform) more than made up for the shipboard cluster…k. Finished my four tour, in 1961, and to this day the Corps influences my life…..Every day!!! See per Fi!

  9. A poem learned while hanging from the pull up bar in the squad bay whilst the Junior Drill Instructor (SSgt. Wright, a heavy weight boxing champ in “56” for the Corps), used me and Private “Boneyard (skinny kid) as work out bags: “Beautiful Beaufort by the sea, I am a Sh!t bird from the Yemasee”. Norm Spilleth, platoon 374, August to October, 1960.

  10. Any Marine from boot camp at Parris Island, platoon Number 103, 2nd. Recruit battalion, Depot Honor Platoon. Graduation Date November 1955. Senior DI Staff Sgt. Foster, Other Drill Instructors Staff Sgt.McLemore and Sgt. Bonneau. Like to hear from you.

  11. Remember the bucket very well , washed in it , sat on it , you didn’t sit on you bunk you sat on you bucket after 12 weeks you had a nice RING on your BUTT. We were in 6 man squad tents , Platoon 155 , 5th Battalion 1950 .

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