CHARLESTON, S.C. — New Marine recruits scheduled to head to Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island near Beaufort, South Carolina will have to make a detour first.
Recruits will first report to The Citadel in Charleston for two weeks of observation. This will allow the Marines to observe recruits to detect possible cases of COVID-19 prior to them entering the base on Parris Island.
“The Secretary of Defense charged each military service to develop strategies to maintain basic training, and The Citadel is proud to be part of the solution for the Marine Corps,” said Gen. Glenn M. Walters, USMC (Ret.), president of The Citadel. “Since The Citadel campus is currently closed due to the pandemic, the college is positioned to quickly assist as a mission-capable site in this effort that supports national security.”
A tent city staging area set up at Parris Island for observation of recruits will not meet the needs of the operation as hurricane season approaches in June. The Marines reached out to The Citadel to explore the potential for temporary support.
“The Citadel has always been a vital resource to the state and our nation,” Walters said. “As we’ve set conditions to support the Marines, what’s been especially inspiring is the immediate and overwhelmingly positive support from our state’s leadership.”
South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster readily supported the partnership. “South Carolina has a longstanding tradition of being the most military-friendly state in the nation, and the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island and The Citadel are critical components of that reputation. This innovative collaboration between the Marine Corps and The Citadel provides the perfect solution.”
Walters also wants to recognize Senator Finance Chair Hugh Leatherman, Mayor John Tecklenburg, Senate President Harvey Peeler, House Speaker Jay Lucas, Ways and Means Chair Murrell Smith, House Majority Leader Gary Simrill and their associated staffs for their cooperation in facilitating this initiative.
The recruits are expected to arrive on campus in groups of approximately 300 initially and will be housed in vacant barracks. Recruits will remain in designated areas on the interior of campus. Auxiliary facilities including the mess hall, infirmary, laundry, tailor shop and some classrooms will also be used for the operation.
A big part of the Marines’ time here will be careful and repeated medical monitoring of all recruits.
Plans are in place to isolate any recruit suspected of COVID-19 infection, or anyone believed to have been exposed.
Navy medical personnel will oversee this monitoring, as well as other medical needs for recruits.
Citadel personnel involved in supporting the Marines will be evaluated as required.
“While meeting our mission, the health and safety of our Marines, all civilians and our families are a primary concern,” said Brig. Gen. James F. Glynn, USMC commanding general, Marine Corps Recruit Depos Parris Island and Eastern Recruiting Region. “With high school graduations happening now, this is one of our busiest times of the year. We are grateful to have this temporary arrangement so near to Parris Island.”
A new group of recruits is expected to arrive at The Citadel every two weeks.
About 19,000 recruits are trained at Parris Island each year.
The Marine Corps developed a contract with The Citadel for the services and facilities used for this initiative, which could partially offset the severe negative impact on the college from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This partnership is reminiscent of the Second World War, when The Citadel campus supported over 10,000 military personnel training in various programs before shipping overseas,” Walters said. “This is an historic partnership at a time of need, and it is a privilege to be a part of it.”