A friend of ours, Chris Redding, will be graduating Friday morning, and we plan to be there. We are very proud of this young man -- becoming a Marine has been a dream of his for a long time, and now it's about to happen.
It was on June 28, 1976, that I rode onto Parris Island on a chartered Greyhound bus full of nervous young men not knowing what to expect. Six of us had left Atlanta earlier in the day and met up with the rest of the group from around the country at the airport in Charleston. We hit the Island about 9:30 that night, and we were promtply greeted by a nice gentleman who began shouting in a deep raspy voice that if we had tobacco or gum, we'd better swallow it, and directed us to get off the bus and get on the infamous yellow footprints. Thus began my 13 week ordeal of being broken down from a soft civilian and re-built as a lean, mean fighting machine -- a United States Marine, and I wouldn't take anything for the experience.
This will be my first trip back to Parris Island in 30 years, and I'm very excited. I've been looking at the web site, the Google Map, and other associated web sites, and the memories have left me teary-eyed more than once. Parris Island is where I was born as a Marine, and this is like a homecoming. And I'm looking forward to meeting Christopher Redding, fellow United States Marine!
OOH RAH!!! SEMPER FI!!!