(excerpt from Warrior
Culture of the U.S. Marines, copyright 2001 Marion F.
Marine Corps boot camp training is, and always must
remain, demanding. Its
only objective is to prepare
recruits for the Brotherhood, and for the hardships of
On a moonlit Sunday night, 8 April 1956, A Drill
Instructor at Parris Island took his Platoon 71 on a forced
march. For hours
they sloshed through the muck and mire of the swamps and salt
marshes surrounding the base.
The Drill Instructor, a 31 year old staff sergeant, a
veteran of World War II and Korea with an exemplary record, felt
his platoon needed more discipline.
As he came to Ribbon Creek, the tidal stream between
Horse Island and Parris Island, he shouted: "Anyone who
can't swim will drown! Anyone
who can swim will be eaten by the sharks!"
The Drill Instructor plunged into the creek, dutifully
followed by his platoon. All
safely struggled across to the other side.
Then, after humping in circles through the ever-rising
water of the salt marshes for a while, they returned to the
creek. But, by this
time the tide had come in.
The current was swift, and Ribbon Creek was now seven
feet deep. Heavily
laden by their packs and rifles, six recruits drowned.
In the aftermath of the Ribbon Creek tragedy the Marine
Corps took a hard look at all aspects of recruit training and
boot camp. The
rigid training and ironclad discipline remained, although forced
night marches through Ribbon Creek came to a screeching halt.
And, the Parris Island Boot
published a new Drill Instructor's Creed on 31 August 1956.
are my recruits. I
will train them to the best of my ability.
I will develop them into smartly disciplined,
physically fit, basically trained Marines, thoroughly
indoctrinated in love
Corps and country.
I will demand of them, and demonstrate by my own
example, the highest standards of personal conduct,
morality, and professional skill.