Gov. McMaster promises to keep Parris Island open amid rumors of closing the facility

Parris Island has been linked with the Marines since 1915

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) —The future of one of South Carolina’s oldest military outposts hangs in the balance.

State leaders gathered Thursday in Columbia to discuss the future of the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island.

The facility has served as one of the major training spots for incoming Marines since 1915, and is where most recruits who come from east of the Mississippi River begin their tenure.

However, Gen. David Berger, the Commandant of the Marines, said he would consider closing the base as well as the Marines’ other training facility in San Diego to open a larger base where men and women can train together as part of the National Defense Authorization Act.

In response to these rumors, Governor Henry McMaster (R-SC) called on state military commanders, as well as state lawmakers, to come to Columbia to discuss the base’s future.

Col. Riccoh Player, the Commanding Officer of the Headquarter and Service Battalion at Parris Island, told the panel that no formal decisions have been made about the base’s future.

“Are we looking at all options? Absolutely. It would be too early to say this is exactly what we’re going to do right here in 2020,” Col. Player said.

With thousands of recruits coming to South Carolina every year, the base brings in about $700 million in economic impact to surrounding Beaufort County.

“It would be a huge, huge hit to the state if something were to change,” said Ted Pitts, the President and CEO of the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce. “But I think we’re hopeful that decision-makers will look and see the value that South Carolina and Parris Island bring to the Marine Corps.”

Col. Player told the panel, which included the commanding officers of Fort Jackson, Fort Gordon, Joint Base Charleston, and Shaw Air Force Base, that $68 million in renovations, including upgraded barracks and a new marksman range, are in the works.

With this commitment in mind, some say the Marines can’t ignore the base’s mission of training both men and women.

“We’re strong and we’re able, the women are there, the men are there, they are absolutely willing to do whatever to get that done,” said Rep. Shannon Erickson (R-Beaufort County).

Governor McMaster said under his watch, he will do all he can to keep Parris Island open.

“We’re confident, but we’re alert, and we will be sure that that closure does not happen,” Gov. McMaster told reporters after the meeting.

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