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16 April 2016
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Return to Parris Island


In the late 80's early 90's I had been working with my dad on the Cape Cod doing construction work, 

finishing houses and building patio decks, but when the recession hit in the 90's work sort of slowed down and I had to find something else to stay gainfully employed. I found myself working in the Event Production Industry which gave me the opportunity to travel around a little. I lucked out with a company which was doing concert reinforcement and found myself traveling to Florida at the end of 1999.

I was traveling down with a co-worker of mine, Mike McIntire, who was also a former Marine. Mike was a Vietnam Veteran who went through Parris Island in 1969,  He was in Field Artillery and still had some hearing issues, due to the war, Mike was a hell of a guy when you could get his attention.

We were traveling out of Boston and headed down I-95 to Southern Florida for this gig. The trip started off well, but a hiccup developed with the truck we were driving and we didn't realize the problem until we stopped in Connecticut at one of those highway McDonalds.

When I pulled into the turn-off ramp for Micky-D's I parked just on the other side of the drive through. As Mike and I got out of the truck we turned and walked towards the building, it took several minutes to get there but when we headed up the steps, the doors of the building swung open and the people from inside McDonalds were rushing out, in fact the entire building was being cleared. I looked at Mike wondering what the hell was going on. We stood there for a few minutes to ask people what was going on, one of the ladies who was inside said there was a fire and the building was being evacuated.

Mike and I turned around and started to walk back to the truck, as we cleared the corner of the building and could see the truck, we noticed a trail of smoke coming from the truck rounding the building and going in through the drive-through window. Later we would find out that the brakes on the truck had seised up and we were driving on locked breaks for a few hours.

We called up the office and had a runner bring a different truck down to Connecticut for us, we cross loaded the gear and was on our way in about 5 hours.

We drove that day and stopped at a hotel just outside of DC for the night.

The next morning we woke up and head South on our way to Florida, We drove all day and when we crossed into South Carolina I told Mike of the excursion I had planned. I wanted to stop in Beaufort and crash out for the night, wake up in the morning and head on to Parris Island. Mike was extremely excited you should have seen the look on his face. he was ready to go. late that night we found a hotel in Beaufort and stayed and crashed.

The next morning as we pulled up to the Gates of the base, I thought we would have a problem getting on but we were in a Company vehicle clearly marked and the Guard let us ride through. The sensations I had as I drove onto the base were amazing. All the smells that I had once experienced almost 20 years earlier were very much still accessible by my pallet. The Island hadn't changed and was still as stoic as I remember. We stopped just before the main side at a coffee shop I don't remember were the shop was, but we went inside an got a coffee to go, . ..

I swear, that was the best best cup of coffee I have had in a great long time. It wasn't pored into my cup any differently, nor was the cream and sugar added in any special way, there was just something about drinking that cup of coffee on Parris Island that was made on Parris Island that made it phenomenal.

Mike and I spent most of the Morning traveling around the Base, We headed over to 3rd BN were Mike was trained and we drifted back across to 2nd Bn were I was trained. Looking at the Parade deck was a flash back and a half. Lot's of memories, lots of sweat.

We left that afternoon and drove most of the way to Florida with a lot to talk about. Sad to say, Mike passed away a few years later in a Motorcycle accident.

Semper Fi Mike, You will be missed.

Ralph Curtis

Posted by Ralph Curtis