Friday morning, Sept. 14, 2012, at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., found long-ago graduates of 3d Recruit Training Battalion attending the morning colors and the graduation of “Charlie” and “Oscar” companies of the 1st and 4th RTBs.
Returning after graduating 50 years ago from the 3d RTB, we sat in the stands and marveled at the enormity and organization of this event. It was a splendid morning as the stands filled up with more than 3,000 family members and guests. I sat left of the VIP section, as a little tow-headed boy banged his toy Hess car against the aluminum bleachers. It didn’t matter, because 628 new Marines were lining up across the parade field, and the Marine band marched in front of us playing “Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina in the morning. …”
What a glorious visit after all these years. I wish that every American citizen could experience a Marine graduation. At morning colors, the Depot commander, Brigadier General Loretta E. Reynolds, spoke eloquently in front of her headquarters building. She thanked the parents for entrusting their loved ones to the care of our Marine Corps, and she promised them that our Corps would continue to care for their loved ones by providing them with the best leadership possible.
The 1st RTB commanding officer spoke to the guests about the importance of training, and he thanked the families for al-low-ing their children to enlist during a time of war. He then asked to be excused, and he did a sharp about face to address the two companies of new Marines. This is the tradition and the first time they are spoken to as United States Marines. He yelled out, “Good morning, Marines!” to all eight platoons stretched from one end of the parade field to the other, and they responded as one in a very loud manner, “Good morning, sir!” We were proud of all of them as they passed in review.
I would like to thank retired Gunnery Sergeant Kohn for escorting us and also thank the men of Co M, 3d RTB for their hospitality. The city of Beaufort has really blossomed, and it is the perfect place to take a vacation.
Take the time to attend a graduation ceremony; it is an experience that you will cherish for the rest of your life. I promise.
LtCol Robert M. Mullins, USMCR (Ret)