MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. -- 13 weeks of rigorous physical, mental, and military training pay off for new Marines at Parris Island.
Companies Mike and Papa graduate boot camp, beginning their journey as a United States Marines.
Drill instructors proudly march with their platoons at Parris Island.
It's family day, the first time these Marines have embraced their loved ones since the start of boot camp.
There's tears, laughter, and plenty of anticipation. In just 24 hours, Companies Mike And Papa will graduate.
"We've been waiting for this forever, and this day seemed like it would never come," said Private Malik Haji.
Private Malik Haji is just one of the graduates who met and mastered the challenge of recruit training.
“It’s about time. 13 weeks was a long time, but I’m glad it’s over," said Private Walter Munzer.
Private Walter Munzer celebrates graduation surrounded by loved ones, long hugs with people he's missed.
“I teared up when I got my eagle, globe, and anchor. That was emotional for everyone," said Private Benjamin Farmer.
Private Benjamin Farmer recalls the times he struggled.
“In the beginning, it was a little hard. Times got tough, you didn’t want to quit, but you just keep pushing…”>
His family makes the trip to Parris Island from North Lebanon Township, Lebanon County.
"Very proud, very proud of Ben. He accomplished a big goal, and he did a great job," said Kelly Demmy, Private Farmer's mother.
Demmy noticing something different about her son.
"Just the way he stands and holds his body. He’s much more confident I think," said Demmy.
Another father says his son has matured since the start.
"He’s a little crisper in his speaking and all, and I don’t know, it’s weird. He’s grown up!" said Damon Williamson, a new Marine's father.
New marines see changes within themselves too.
"My endurance was awful coming here, and once I came through, and I learned I could push farther than I thought I could before," said Private Munzer.
These men and women will get 10 days off before attending the School of Infantry, and many are looking forward to the comforts they've missed.
"Going home, spending times, with friends, and family, relaxing a little bit, getting a chance to sleep in in my own bed, a nice bed," said Private Farmer.