PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. (WCBD) – Five former United States Marine Corps (USMC) officers recently sent a letter to the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Military Enhancement Committee offering perspective on the future of Parris Island Marine Corps Recruit Depot, and the responses of Congressional candidates.
The voices behind the letter include Brigadier General Steve Cheney, — who served as the Commanding General of Parris Island from 1999 to 2001 — Colonel Roxanne W. Cheney, Captain James J. Wegman, Colonel Warren Parker, and Colonel Landon K. Thorne.
Parris Island, according to the officers, is “the crown jewel of our many military installations.” However, the officers recognize that it is in serious need of funding for infrastructure updates.
They agree that Parris Island “does not currently have the infrastructure to meet” requirements for gender integration at the platoon level within five years, as mandated by the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act. But they disagree with the prospect of diverting funds from the renovation of existing depots, like Parris Island, in favor of constructing a new depot:
“Parris Island can easily integrate female recruits into its training program. In fact, women have been training on Parris Island for nearly 80 years. Parris Island simply needs funding for a new barracks… Congress can and should provide the funding necessary to renovate Parris Island to accommodate female recruits.”
The officers argue that “despite the overblown rhetoric about gender integration,” the real threat to the survival of Parris Island is rising sea levels, which in conjunction with harsher storms, “contribute to an almost-daily loss of real estate on Parris Island and require more frequent recruit evacuation that is both expensive and time-consuming.”
This issue garners much less attention, which is why the officers are commending Representative Joe Cunningham for calling attention to the problem of rising sea levels:
“In the interest of Parris Island’s future, we, the undersigned, stand behind Rep. Cunningham and the rest of the South Carolina Congressional delegation, and urge all interested Beaufort County residents to do the same. Parris Island will need significant resources to adapt to the effects of sea-level rise, which we see everyday here in the Lowcountry.”
While the future of Parris Island is a hot topic in the upcoming election, the officers are cautioning against using “alarmist political rhetoric to gain a political advantage,” after a Congressional candidate made claims they felt are “outlandish” and “factually inaccurate.”
Rather, they “believe it is in the best interests of Parris Island for the rhetoric to be toned down, and for a truthful conversation to be held with the public.”