By 1914, the world was in crisis. War had broken out in Europe, and closer to home, Marines saw action at Vera Cruz and Haiti. As a response to the impending peril, in October 1915 Parris Island’s naval facilities were turned over to the Marine Corps for recruit training. The installation was officially designated “Marine Barracks, Port Royal, SC.”
With the passing of the National Defense Act in 1916, recruiting efforts were amplified. Included in this act was the creation of the Marine Corps Reserve. The depot quickly grew to meet the challenges of an expanding role in preparing the nation for war. After 1915, most recruits received training at Parris Island or Mare Island, California. During World War I, about 80 percent of all recruits trained at Parris Island. West Coast training was expanded in 1923 by moving Mare Island’s operations to San Diego.
Recruiting standards required all applicants to be unmarried, English educated, male citizens, with no dependents, of good health, have a strong constitution, and "sound as to senses and limbs." All arriving new recruits were processed by marching through the post to the quarantine station for evaluation before finally taking the oath of enlistment.
The course of instruction at Parris Island lasted eight weeks. The first three weeks were devoted to instruction and practice of close-order drill, physical exercise, swimming, bayonet fighting, personal combat, wall scaling, and rope climbing. During the fourth and fifth weeks, recruits perfected their drills, learned boxing and wrestling, and were taught interior guard duties. The last three weeks were dedicated to marksmanship.
|Graduates of Parris Island in France|
Parris Island also hosted a variety of other skill-based schools including non-commissioned officer, field music, radio, signal, clerical, pay, and cooks’ and bakers’ schools. On 1 July 1918, a presidential proclamation ordered possession to be taken of the entire island not already owned by the United States Government, comprising 6,000 total acres.
Source: Parris Island's Centennial Website