Inside Marine Corps Boot Camp: Graduation Day

By: Venton D. Blandin
By: Venton D. Blandin

February 23, 2006

Students look forward to graduation day during their school years, and that is the same thing a Marine recruit looks forward to during boot camp. Our exclusive look into Marine Corps Boot Camp continues with a look into the military's own form of pomp & circumstance for Marines who begin a new life which sets them apart from the rest.

It's often said that all good things must come to an end, but on Parris Island in South Carolina, it's the exact opposite.

It is a day these young men and women have fought hard to see over the past twelve weeks. A day that sets them apart from everyone else, and one that would make any parent proud.

"I feel a sense of accomplishment because, to me, it's a sign that I've succeeded, and, even more importantly, that she's succeeded at something she set a goal for," said parent Annie Woolfolk.

The sense of accomplishment is a refreshing feeling for the Marine recruits on Parris Island. The recruits have endured weeks of intense mental and physical training. They have learned and memorized an enormous amount of military history, along with traditions, and courtesies. So enormous, it sometimes seemed to be too overwhelming, and brought an even bigger feeling of doubt.

Recruits say once they get into the habit of doing their daily routine during training, the feeling of doubt fades just as quick as the twelve weeks, which brings a whole other feeling to mind.

"I don't know if I can say fun, but it is exciting. I will say that. You're constantly finding something new to get in trouble [for], or find something new one way or another is humorous, if you look at it from an outside point of view," said Kenneth Anderson, a Marine recruit from Danville, Virginia.

While the mission of the military is not to be fun, it can be. The military's mission is to protect the United States. Barry Caulder is a Marine recruit, who actually fought in Iraq to take over Baghdad, knows all too well what a Marine can expect during war-time. The former Navy Corpsmen is now acting as a mentor for fellow Marine recruits.

"Some of them ask me questions about what it was like over there, and I try to tell them because pretty much we'll be deployed over there within a year Sir, out of boot camp," said Caulder.

Back on Parris Island, Caulder will soon graduate, and join the Few and the Proud.

"I'm very proud of her. I could not have done this. I'm ex-military and ex-Navy. I could not have done what she's done here today. The Marines is truly an elite group, I believe," added Woolfolk.

In a day filled with lots of tradition supported by honor, courage, and commitment. It is a day which ends a 12 week trek, but starts the journey of a lifetime.

While the lifelong journey is just about to begin for the new Marines, the Marine Corps does allow them to take a few days off, before going back to work. The Marines get 10 days of leave to rest and relax, and then it's back to months of training for their military job.

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