Parris Island Memories
By John Duncan
I joined the Marine Corps on August 31, 1962, right out of high school. Probably because my father and uncle were Marines in WWII or maybe because I thought I would look good in dress blues. I joined at a time when Camelot (Jack and Jackie Kennedy) was beginning, the Cuba Missile Crises threatened to cut short our time in Boot Camp and far away in a small, lush and beautiful country, we were planting the seeds that would lead each of us to a cross road in our lives. To some of our brothers it would not only be a cross road, but a road that would lead them into eternity.
I was told back then, that as long as a person is in our heart and thoughts, as long as their name is mentioned, they live on. That is why some people gather at The Wall, to remember, to touch and speak a name.
Parris Island, SC –The Good Old Days
The best twelve weeks of my life were spent at Parris Island (home of the infamous sand flea) in Platoon 366. We didn’t have to get up till 5:00 AM. We had a nice place to live and a really great bathroom. They let me eat three times a day, play on ladders and tree trunks, climb ropes, got plenty of exercise, they gave me clothes that were just like everyone else’s and later they gave me some clothes for Sunday and other special occasions. I even got a rifle of my own and free bullets at no cost to me. They treated me just like company.
In the mornings, after a brisk walk, they gave you breakfast. They had people that put food on your tray for you and you didn’t have to reach across the table for anything. They gave you cool milk to drink with the morning meal, which you did not have to work for yourself. The other two meals they gave us store bought sweet water (Kool Aid). Some times it was red, sometimes green and sometimes it was yellow. I could never quite get use to drinking the yellow. You did not even have to share your knife or fork and someone else washed up everything for you.
I heard some of the other fellows saying that the food tasted like pig slop. How they new the difference is a whole other story, I’m sure. I don’t believe they were from around here. I don’t know what they fed their pigs, but our hogs would have been sitting on the porch waiting on us to get up and feed them if they could have had that nectar.
Did I mention that the DI’s, short for drill instructors, watched over us like mother hens so we did not get hurt or run out of things to do. Life was good.
There are so many other fond memories that there is just not enough time to mention them all.
Writing during church service, which lead to how to play a game called jukebox, my buddy that got to go to the motivation platoon (without even asking), how to make your buddy dodge the operating spring from your M-14, the rifle range, final inspection and graduation. I understand that the recruits at Pendleton even got to go on nature hikes.
Thanks to Rod Skelton for finding me a couple years ago and bringing me home and to Jean and Jack Bradley for keeping in touch with me.
God Bless The Corps