By Mike McCombs
Representative Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) visited MCRD Parris Island on Wednesday, Jan. 27. It was the first visit to Parris Island for Mace since she was sworn in as a freshman Congresswoman earlier this year.
The visit was requested by Mace, who represents South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District, which includes Beaufort County and it’s three military installations. She was given a personal tour by Brig. Gen. Julie Nethercot, the depot’s commanding general.
According to Natalie Johnson, Mace’s Director of Communications, the Congresswoman was interested in integrated training companies, training facilities and how the base was handling COVID-19 protocol. In general, she said, Mace was just getting the “lay of the land.”
A late September story, initially published by Military.com then by other news sources, reported Marine Corps commandant Gen. David Berger was considering closing the Corps’ two existing training locations – Parris Island and MCRD San Diego – in favor of a new integrated base where male and female recruits would train together.
The 2020 National Defense Authorization Act gave Parris Island five years to make training for male and female recruits equal.
The report caught South Carolina leaders off guard. Then U.S. Representative Joe Cunningham (D-S.C.) and the state’s Republican senators Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott took to social media to voice support for Parris Island.
Graham criticized anyone supporting any plan to close Parris Island.
“If you’re looking to save money — let’s start with cutting those people who think closing Parris Island is a good idea,” Graham said on Twitter. “Anyone in the Navy or Marine Corps thinking about closing Parris Island has limited growth potential.”
Along with Reps. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.-02) and Ralph Norman (R-S.C.-05), Mace is sponsoring legislation to prevent Congress or the Defense Department from shuttering Parris Island.
“I promised my constituents my very first act as congresswoman would be to defend Parris Island. … I’ll make good on that promise,” Mace said in a Wednesday news release.
Since it’s opening in 1915, more than a million U.S. Marines – including every woman who served as a Marine – have trained at the MCRD Parris Island, serving in every conflict since World War I.
“Parris Island is not only fundamental to our national defense, but creates 6,000 jobs and $800 million in economic activity while serving as an integral part of our Beaufort community and the Palmetto State,” Mace continued. “The ‘Parris Island Protection Act’ will ensure it remains open to train Marines for generations to come.”
Above: Rep. Nancy Mace, center, tours Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island on Wednesday, Jan. 27. Brig. Gen. Julie Nethercot, the depot commanding general, gave Mace a personal tour of the base to showcase integrated recruit training companies and training facilities. Photo by Lance Cpl. Samuel C. Fletcher, USMC.