Beaufort, South Carolina has been a proud home of the United States Navy/Marine Corps since 1915. The Marine Recruit Depot at Parris Island (MCRDPI) trains young recruits to become soldiers in the defense of our country and its liberties. MCRDPI recently installed the first female Commanding General in its nearly 100 year history. And she means business

Beaufort is proud to serve as home to three military bases: The Beaufort Naval Hospital WWW.MED.NAVY.MIL; The Marine Corp Air Station, Beaufort WWW.MARINES.MIL; and The United States Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, Eastern Recruiting Division (MCRDPI)WWW.MCRDPI.USMC.MIL; which covers an entire 8,000+ acre island southwest of downtown. MCRDPI was founded in 1915 on what was once known as “Wambahee Island” by the Yemassee Indians, then “Port Royal Island” by English settlers, and finally “Parris Island” after Colonel Alexander Parris, one of the island’s original owners. It is one of the most historic and visited military bases in the world, receiving over 150,000 visitors a year. The base is one of only two Marine Recruit Depots in the U. S.  It trains male soldiers from the 22 states east of the Mississippi River and the United States Protectorates of Puerto Rico and The U. S. Virgin Islands, and female soldiers from all of America – and has for every major conflict in American history since World War I.

General Lori Reynolds, Commanding General of MCRDPI

Recruit training cycles and graduation dates vary; please visit WWW.MCRDPI.USMC.MIL/GRADUATION for the specific date of your Marine’s graduation. Family Day and Graduation Ceremonies take place on the last two days (Thursday and Friday) of the 12-week recruit training cycle. Family Day is held on the first day and gives new Marines a chance to see family and friends for the first time during on-base liberty. Graduation is conducted the next day in a formal ceremony and parade attended by guests.  Around week 9 of the 12-week training cycle, each recruit is issued ONE Graduation Packet with the Battalion Commander’s Graduation Invitation, and ONE entry/parking pass. Please note that the recruits themselves decide to whom they send their graduation packets and invitations, and Parris Island personnel have no information or control over their choice. This sometimes causes problems when large families gather for the ceremonies, so the following information is provided for your convenience:

Helpful Facts about Family Day Activities and Graduation Exercises at Parris Island

Please be sure to confirm the graduation date of your graduating recruit before making the trip to Parris Island. Graduation is no longer held every Friday; the dates of graduations and specific policies and procedures for entry to Parris Island can be found at WWW.MCRDPI.USMC.MIL/GRADUATION/VISITOR. Don’t forget sunscreen and insect repellant!

In order to be authorized access to Parris Island, beginning on Family Day Thursday, guests of each recruit must have entry/parking passes to properly identify their vehicles. Additional vehicle passes for those who did not receive the graduation packet are available at the front gate beginning at 06:00 on Family Day Thursday. Please carefully review the Graduation Vehicle Visitor Pass policy here, which explains the requirements for obtaining vehicle passes, including valid driver’s licenses, registrations, and proof of insurance on all vehicles entering Parris Island.

ALLvisitors are required to register at the Douglas Visitors Center  upon arrival. In order to allow sufficient time to identify which recruits have family or visitors waiting to see them, you must register your party before 09:50 on Family Day Thursday. If you wish to see the Motivational Run at 07:00, you must sign in by 06:30, then register your party at the Visitors’ Center after the run. Please keep in mind that MCRDPI is the property of the United States Navy, and therefore under military jurisdiction, NOT the City of Beaufort or Beaufort County. To avoid an unpleasant situation, always obey posted and published traffic and parking rules (including a prohibition on using cell phones while driving), which are strictly enforced.

Graduation Day Activities begin at 07:45 the following day with the Morning Colors Ceremony in front of MCRD Parris Island HQTRS Building, followed by tours of recruit living and training quarters. The Rhett house Inn can accommodate graduation visitors by serving breakfast as early as 07:30.

Actual Graduation Ceremonies begin at 09:00, and Parris Island officials require that visitors arrive before 08:00 on the morning of graduation. You should plan to leave the Rhett House Inn no later than 07:45 to allow time to get to the base in time for the Graduation Ceremony, which lasts approximately 2 hours.

Basic Training Graduation Schedule

Family Day Thursday:  We recommend leaving The Rhett House Inn by 06:00 if you wish to see the Motivational Run; otherwise, 08:30.

06:30: Java Café opens – Visitors’ Center.
07:00: Motivational Run begins and ends at Peatross Parade Deck. After the run, but before 09:50, a member of your party should register your  group at the Douglas Visitors’ Center.
09:30: Family Day briefing in All-Weather Training Facility. Early seating no later than 09:00 suggested.
10:00: Liberty Ceremony.
10:15 – 15:00: On-base liberty and Open House with your Marine. Picnic tables are available, and you may take a picnic meal.

Graduation Day Friday:  We recommend leaving the RHI by 07:00 if you wish to see the Morning Colors Ceremony. If you only wish to see the actual graduation ceremony, we recommend leaving by 07:45.

07:45 – 08:00: Morning Colors Ceremony with Parris Island Marine Band in front of Barrow Hall.
09:00 – 11:00: Graduation Ceremonies at the Peatross Parade Deck. Since the stands are marked with platoon numbers for best viewing of your Marine, early seating (08:00 – 08:30) is suggested.

New Marines have 10 days of leave between Graduation and reporting to their Follow-on Training. Plans should be made in advance for transportation of your Marine after the Graduation Ceremony.

The Graduation Ceremonies are professionally filmed, and your Marine’s graduation may be purchased in DVD format. Order forms are available at the Parris Island Visitors’ Center, at, or by calling 1.800.889.6734.

♦ New Marines in uniform eat free at these Beaufort restaurants ♦

Click on the map of MCRDPI below for printable version

For an interesting and informative self-guided driving tour of Parris Island – its monuments, buildings, and history,
ask for the driving tour brochure at the gate.


Please remember that the Marine Corp Air Station Beaufort and the Marine Corp Rrecruit Depot at Parris Island are active military bases of the United States Marine Corps, under the control of the United States Department of Defense and the United States Navy. This is NOT an official publication of the U. S. Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, S. C., the U. S. Department of Defense, or the U. S. Navy. The above information is intended for general informational use by guests of The Rhett House Inn only. It is not guaranteed in any way; has not been authorized, approved, endorsed, or verified by the U. S. Marine Corps, the U. S. Navy, the U. S. Department of Defense, or the U. S. Department of Homeland Security, and is subject to change by any of these agencies at any time without notice. Always verify the details and requirements of your trip to Parris Island in advance by visiting: WWW.MCRDPI.USMC.MIL/GRADUATION/CEREMONY; WWW.MARINES.MIL; WWW.MCRDPI.USMC.MIL; WWW.DEFENSE.GOV; WWW.DHS.GOV; WWW.NAVY.MIL or calling the Douglas Visitors’ Center at Parris Island at 843.228.3650.