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Where REAL Marines are Made: East or West

Recruits meet Parris Island drill instructors who will train them throughout Marine boot camp
Photo by Cpl. Octavia Davis

Marines. The few. The proud.

Way more than a slogan, it truly is a way of life. Many mistake the pride that accompanies earning the title “Marine” with arrogance or an inflated ego too big to restrain when tossed into a room with other service members.

They may be right, but I say this; it’s all in the training.

The Corps’ training instills in Marines the confidence that we can accomplish any and every task given to us; we are trained to believe and know that we are the best; we are trained longer, and arguably harder, than any other branch of military service.

Enlisted Marines are trained at one of two recruit training depots in the United States: Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island or Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego.  Both depots are identical when it comes to training schedules and yet, ask any Marine where they were made and that’s when you will see the true pride and arrogance of a Marine come to surface.

It becomes a battle of East versus West. Parris Island Marines will argue that having the luxury of training next to an airport and traveling between MCRD San Diego to Camp Pendleton is laughable and that the reaper mountain is nothing more than a glorified trail hike. Not my opinion, just what I’ve been told.  San Diego Marines lash back that whining about sand fleas is childish and that training on a flat, tiny island is no match for the hills and real-Marine infantry courses in California’s coastal mountains.

So what’s the real deal? Who has it harder? Is there a difference?

MCRD Parris Island

Let’s look at the facts.  MCRD Parris Island trains recruits that hail east of the Mississippi River and those from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as well as female recruits.  There are four recruit training battalions, 1st – 4th; the last of which is all-female. In the summer it’s much hotter than the average 92-degree temperature because of the 96 percent humidity that comes with being located in a salt-water marshland. Winter temperatures stay in the mid to low 50s, although the humidity still rarely dips below 71 percent.

Despite the elements, There are close to 600 drill instructors conducting training at any given time on the island, graduating a little less than 17,000 Marines per year; with a male attrition rate of fewer than 7 percent and female attrition rate of fewer than 17 percent, give or take.

MCRD San Diego

Males west of the Mississippi river attend training at MCRD San Diego. There are three all-male training battalions. The west coast depot’s average 73-degree summer temperature is cooler than its east coast counterpart, with winter temps roughly the same. Training occurs on the depot as well as the terrain of Camp Pendleton where forced marches up and over hills taller than Mount Suribachi test recruits’ mettle.

In the west, there are roughly 500 drill instructors who conduct training, graduating 20,000 + recruits per year with an attrition rate of fewer than 10 percent.

The West coast does more with less. The East coast has its weather-related misery and unrelenting bugs. But, no matter how you slice it, the end result is the same: Marine.

We all claim our titles, no matter where we are “made” and proudly stand shoulder to shoulder and say, believe and know: we are the best of the best. The few. The proud. Marines.

Semper Fi brothers and sisters.

Sgt. Kuande Hall

Parris Island, 3rd Battalion, India Co. circa 2001… where REAL Marines are made. YUT!


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  1. Hey Tim no they did not san diego rarely has any humidity and it is more dry feeling than parris island so whatever bothers you most Dry or Humid will depend witch is harder to do for you


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