While visiting the inspirational Parris Island military museum take advantage of the free self-guided 15 miles loop driving tour. Download the brochure ahead of time; it has a brief description of all the attractions and turn by turn driving instructions. Here are the highlights (data taken from the brochure):
Interesting things to see near the museum
Iron Mike – Erected in 1924 and designed by Robert Ingersoll Aitken.Dedicated to Parris Island Marines who gave their lives in World War I, it is officially known as the “Monument to U.S. Marines.”
The two field pieces on each side are 2.95-inch Vickers-Maxim Mountain guns made around 1900. The drinking fountain nearby is dedicated to all Parris Island Marines who died during World War II.
Iwo Jima Monument – “Uncommon Valor was a Common Virtue”
The heroic flag raising on Mount Surabach, Iwo Jima, in 1945 is an inspiration to all Americans as a symbol of freedom and personifies many of the Marines qualities: confidence, discipline, fidelity and the rugged determination to overcome insurmountable odds.
This version of coated plaster was made by Felix de Weldon to raise money for the much larger bronze monument that was eventually erected in D.C.
Douglas Visitor’s Center – Over 100,000 people visit Parris Island each year. The visitor’s center is named for Paul H. Douglas who at age 50, enlisted in the Corps, becoming the oldest recruit to complete training.
As a Captain, Douglas was sent to the Pacific theater in a non combat role. While there, he talked his way into a combat role, later receiving two Purple Hearts!
Leatherneck Square and Confidence Course – Here you can observe recruitsundergoing rigorous training to prepare them for hand-to-hand combat.
The main point of interest is the Confidence Course, first introduced in 1958 and updated in 2002.
Constructed of logs, cables, pipe and rope, this tests coordination and endurance.
The most challenging of the 11 obstacles is the “Dirty Name” and the “Slide for Life.”
Memorial Park and Molly Marine – Opposite Depot Theater, is a Memorial Park honoring the 5th, 9th and 14th Defense Battalions which trained at Parris Island during World War II.
The centerpiece is a replica of the famous Molly Marine statue, dedicated to the service of all Women Marines. The original was commissioned during World War II by a Reserve recruiter in New Orleans. The sculptor, Enrique Alferez, was a Mexican immigrant who himself wished to become a United States Marine.
4th Recruit Training Battalion – Here is the training for female recruits. Women began serving in the Corps in 1918 in the Women’s Reserve. In 1948 females were integrated into the regular Marine Corps, and in 1949 the first class graduated at Parris Island.
Now that you’ve worked an appetite dine at Traditions located nearby on China Hutung. Traditions, once near the Dry Dock, was converted to an officer’s club in 1920 and moved to its present location in 1939. Lunch is served Sunday through Friday.
Weapons and History Trail
Page Field – Named for Captain Arthur Hallet Page Jr., a Marine aviator from 1918 to 1930. The field was most active during World War II when it used a variety of aircraft
such as Navy dirigibles, Corsairs, Wildcats, B-25 bombers, a glider squadron and a barrage balloon detachment. Today, Page Field is part of the Weapons and Field Training Battalion.
Charlesfort and Santa Elena National Historic Landmark – Along the 1/2 mile Nature and History Trail you can admire a crashed WWII bomber, the Parris Island lighthouse keeper’s home and the Santa Elena Monument.
From here take the interpretive trail through the 16th century Santa Elena town site, one of the most historic early colonial sites in North America. Brochures are available at the entrance of Fort San Marcos or in the clubhouse. Artifacts from the site are in the Parris Island Museum.
Rifle Range – Finish the driving tour at the Rifle Range, where recruits learn the basics of the M16A2 rifle. Each must become proficient in firing from the 200, 300, and 500 yards lines using various positions: off hand, prone, sitting and kneeling.
Each marker in front of the ranges is named for a Korean or Vietnam war battle in which Marines participated. The first range is Inchon, followed by Starlite, Chosin, Hue City, and Khe Sanh. The pistol ranges are named Pusan and Mount Suribachi.
More family attractions around Beaufort
• The historic St. Helena Episcopal Church the second oldest yet fastest growing church congregation in South Carolina (free)
• The magnificent and resilient Hunting Island lighthouse ($2 on top of park admission)
• The creepy-crawling, jaw-snapping, and slithering Edisto Island Serpentarium (adults $12.95, children 6-12 $9.95, 3 and under free)
Have great family vacation in Beaufort, SC!
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