Topic: Drill and Training
Ribbon Creek: Remaking the Corps
Marine; A Guided Tour of a Marine Expeditionary Unit, Tom Clancy, 1996
Ribbon Creek brought on a strong Congressional and public reaction. This came from genuine concern for the welfare of individual Marines and the Corps as a whole. Clearly, Americans wanted the Corps to be a reflection of their values and ideals.
The postwar years were busy for the Marines, as they were often called upon to support U.S. interests overseas. But with the coming of the Cold War, the Corps sought to make itself ready for its part in America's defense mission. Thus, Marines endured atomic battlefield tests in Nevada and began to absorb new equipment and tactics. All of this came from a general view that the Corps was remaking itself into a high-technology force that was ready to fight on the nuclear battlefield. Then came the tragedy at Ribbon Creek. In 1956, a drunken drill instructor at the recruiting depot at Parris Island, South Carolina, marched a group of seventy-four recruits into a tidal swamp called Ribbon Creek. Six of them died. The tragedy led to a total reform of Marine recruit training.
Ribbon Creek brought on a strong Congressional and public reaction. This came from genuine concern for the welfare of individual Marines and the Corps as a whole. Clearly, Americans wanted the Corps to be a reflection of their values and ideals. Several hundred instructors were relieved of duty as a result of investigations into their conduct in training Marines. In addition, Ribbon Creek led to a profound transformation in the way the Corps viewed and trained its recruits. The shift reinforced the attitude that all Marines are brothers or sisters to their fellow Marines. Even today, the memory of Ribbon Creek influences the way new recruits are handled—not with kid gloves, but with respect for their safety and dignity. This too is part of the Marine ethos: to take care of their brother and sister Marines.