The complete Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island base guide - We Are The Mighty
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The complete Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island base guide

Marines, sound off! The Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island is a straight-up institution as far as the USMC is concerned. No, seriously. It’s truly one of the most hallowed grounds for Marines. In fact, it’s been training Marines since 1915. That makes it one of the oldest Marine training installations in the country. The history of the base stretches back even further – all the way back to 1891 when Marines were first assigned to Parris island. Later, quarters were constructed and today it serves as the initial toe-in-the-water experience for our country’s newest enlisted Marines. 

Often abbreviated as MCRD PI, Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island is located within Port Royal, South Carolina. It’s about eight clicks from Beaufort. On average, about 17,000 recruits are trained at this installation. Training takes thirteen weeks and during that time, recruits are basically cut off from the world. 

If you’re heading to MCRD Parris Island, read on to discover what to expect. 

Drill Instructor at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island
A Drill Instructor with Delta Company marches his platoon on Parris Island S.C. July 18, 2019. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Andrew Neumann)

Parris Island Boot Camp Location

Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island is located on Parris Island and several smaller islands approximately 4 miles south of the City of Beaufort, South Carolina. Prior to 1929, a ferry provided transportation to and from the island. These days, there’s a causeway that connects the MCRD to the rest of civilization. 

Parris Island, South Carolina 

Directions 

MCRD Parris Island can be reached by car using the following routes.

Heading in from the north? Take I-95 S to US-17N to US-21 S, then follow signs for the Parris Island Gateway and MCRD Parris Island

Driving from the south? Take I-95 N to US-278 E, then follow signs for the Parris Island Gateway and MCRD Parris Island

Coming from the west? Routes coming from the West will intersect with I-95. Follow instructions for North or South depending on whether you are coming from Northwest or Southwest.

Transportation

Flying to the closest airports: Charleston International Airport, Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport

Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport (46.2 miles) – Served by most major airlines with multiple destinations

Charleston International Airport (77.4 miles) – Served by most major airlines with multiple destinations

Driving: Driving would allow you to visit nearby Savannah, GA and Charleston, SC. MCRD Parris Island is an island off the coast of South Carolina, so be sure you’re ready for a long drive if you come by car!

Marine Corps shooting team at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island
Marines on the Parris Island Shooting Team, with Weapons and Field Training Battalion, present the team’s awards to Brig. Gen. Julie L. Nethercot, the commanding general, on Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, July 29, 2021. The shooting team is made up of highly skilled rifleman stationed on Parris Island, with both full-time and part-time shooters. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Michelle Brudnicki)

Contacts at MCRD Parris Island

Animal Clinic: (843) 228-3317

Career Resource Center: (843) 228-4574/2761

Cash Sales (Uniforms): (843) 228-1591

Chapel, Depot: (843) 228-2974

Chaplain, Depot: (843) 228-3712

Civilian Personnel Office: (843) 228-2217

Command Duty Officer: (843) 228-3712

Command Inspector: (843) 228-3086

Commissary: (843) 228-2383

Counseling: (843) 228-2044

Dental Clinic: (843) 228-3500

Equal Opportunity Office: (843) 228-2647

Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP): (843) 228-3188

Family Advocacy Program: (843) 228-2044

Family Readiness Program: (843) 228-2944

Housing Referral: (843) 228-2244/2853

Housing Office – Laurel Bay: (843) 846-5300

Judge Advocate: (843) 228-4766

Legal Assistance: (843) 228-2925

Lodging Reservations: (843) 228-2744

Marriage and Family Counseling: (843) 271-8535

Medical Appointment Line: (843) 228-5175

Medical Clinic: (843) 228-1309

Military Police: (843) 228-3444

Pharmacy: (843) 228-2249

Public Affairs: (843) 228-3923

Relocation Assistance: (843) 228-2371

Safety Office: (843) 228-2704

Sexual Assault Prevention and Response 24-hour Line: (843) 228-3599

Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office: (843) 228-3744

Substance Abuse Counseling: (843) 228-1620

Victim Advocate: (843) 592-0646

Visitor’s Center: (843) 228-3650

Mission and Units 

Recruits and Drill Instructor at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island
Recruits with Delta Company, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, arrive at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., June 24, 2019. Receiving Drill Instructors spend the first week of recruit training with the recruits preparing them to for the weeks to follow. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Samuel C. Fletcher)

Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island makes Marines by “recruiting quality young men and women and transforming them through the foundations of rigorous basic training, our shared legacy and a commitment to our core values preparing them to win our nation’s battles in service to the country.”

The MCRD Parris Island is primarily a training facility for the Marine Corps and is home to both the Weapons and Field Training Battalion and the Headquarters and Service Battalion.

In the first place, the objective of recruit training is similiar to all other DoD boot camps. The goal is to make service members who embody and personify Marine Corps values. Each Marine who completes training at Parris Island will leave understanding personal discipline, military bearing, and character development.

The Headquarters and Service Battalion is the parent command for the personnel who provide continuous support to the depot and its subordinate commands in order to accomplish the depot’s mission of “making marines.”

Finally, the Weapons and Field Training Battalion conducts entry level marksmanship training, annual requalification training in rifle and pistol, field training, and facilitates the culminating event of recruit training, The Crucible.

MCIWS at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island
Marines attending the Marine Corps Instructor of Water Survival (MCIWS) Course on Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C. endured various events together during the five-week training course before graduating June 25, 2021. The course is designed to teach and train Marines through events such as casualty rescues, distance swims, practical application and underwater endurance exercises designed to reduce fear, raise self-confidence, and develop Marines with the ability to survive in any situation in the water. Aboard the depot, the role of a MCIWS is to train recruits in basic swim qualification and develop their confidence in the water. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Dana Beesley)

Marine Corps Boot Camp at Parris Island History

In 1715, Colonel Alexander Parris purchased the large island now known as Parris Island and the eight surrounding islands for plantations. Exactly two hundred years later, the island was officially designated a Marine Corps Recruit Depot.

Later, in February 1949, a separate “command” was activated for the sole purpose of training female recruits. This command has since been designated the 4th Recruit Training Battalion and is the only battalion in the Corps to train female recruits.

When the Korean conflict began in 1950, there were 2,350 recruits in training. From then until the 1st Marine Division was withdrawn from Korea in 1955, Parris Island drill instructors trained more than 138,000 recruits.

Since Parris Island trains so many recruits, plenty go on to do spectacular things. Check out this story of the “deadliest recruit” to ever pass through Parris Island.

Parris Island map
1882 U.S. Coast Survey Map of Beaufort River, showing the island (at left) designated “Paris I.”

Things to Do Around Parris Island

Hotels

Super 8 by Wyndham Port Royal/Beaufort (7.3 miles)

Holiday Inn & Suites Beaufort (11 miles)

Comfort Suites near MCAS Beaufort (10.2 miles)

Restaurants

Agave Mexican Grill (7.1 miles) – Mexican

The Carolina Tavern (6.2 miles) – Barbecue

Fishcamp on 11th Street (6.6 miles) – Fish restaurant on shrimp fishing dock

Activities

Coastal Discovery Museum (36.8 miles) – This Smithsonian-affiliated museum has 2,000 square feet of indoor exhibits and 68 acres of outdoor space to explore Hilton Head Island’s history.

Savannah, Georgia (43.4 miles) – It’s just an hour drive to Savannah, which is great for a day trip. There are plenty of historical spots, beautiful parks, and waterfront restaurants to visit!

Broad River Fishing Pier (8.6 miles) – If you love fishing, take a drive to the Broad River Fishing Pier and spend your day fishing, enjoying a picnic, and watching the sunset.

Museum at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island
Ron Buffano, a teacher at Tampa Bay Tech and of the Recruiting Station Orlando group, reads one of the World War II posters in the Parris Island Museum Jan. 14, 2016, aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C. Visiting the Parris Island Museum is one of the many parts of the Educators Workshop, which is a three-day event that will give the educators a chance to experience the day-to-day routines aboard the depot and Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, S.C. The purpose of the workshop is to give the educators a better understanding of the Marine Corps. (Official Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Diamond Peden)

Marine Corps Boot Camp at Parris Island Housing

Housing at Parris Island is outsourced to a private company, much like many other DoD installations. Tri–Command Communities manages the housing and some homes have water or marsh views. It’s recommended to check with the Base Housing Office as soon as you receive orders to Parris Island, as there are often long wait lists. Tri-Command Communities offers three neighborhoods for Marines and their families. Each serves a specific rank.

Wake Village is an E1-E5 neighborhood. Homes have one-car garages and screened-in porches.

Weapons Sounds is for E6-E8 Marines. Homes are close to soccer fields and volleyball courts. Some floor plans offer 4 bedrooms and 2.5 baths.

Marsh Landing is for O4-O5 families and includes two-car garages and screened-in porches. 

Of course, if you’re a recruit heading to Parris Island, you’ll be living in the barracks. 

Schools Near Parris Island 

Marine families stationed near Parris Island have their choice of several schools. These include both Beauford District Schools and DoDEA schools. The DoDEA schools available serve students from pre-K through sixth grade. Many of the schools near Parris Island are year round. Check with the base School Liaison Officer for more information. 

Statue at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island
Molly Marine stands tall during the re-dedication ceremony Oct. 16, 2015, as part of the centennial celebration on Parris Island, S.C. The statue bears the inscription, “… in honor of women Marines who serve their country in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Marine Corps.” This is a replica statue of the original Molly Marine monument located in New Orleans, which was first erected in 1943, the year the women’s reserve first activated.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do the Marines still use Parris Island?

Yes, Parris Island trains an average of 19,000 Marines a year.

Are civilians allowed on Parris Island SC?

MCRD Parris Island is only open for visitors on Family Day and from Wednesday to Friday of Graduation Week.

Which is harder, Parris Island or San Diego?

San Diego has some pretty serious hills, while Parris Island has sand fleas and humidity, but the training conducted at each facility is identical. One is not considered harder than the other (though most Marines will say that the MCRD they trained at is the harder one!). Want a sneak peak? Check out this training video.

What is the fail rate for Marine boot camp?

About 10% of recruits fail out of boot camp.

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