Tradition of the Yellow Footprints
The following is an excerpt from an April, 2009 Marine Corps article. Use the link at the bottom of the page to read the article in full.
Note: While this article was written in reference to Parris Island, the yellow footprints are a tradition at both Recruit Depots. In addition, recruits in San Diego also pass through double doors.
Parris Island through the eyes of new recruits
4/10/2009 By Lance Corporal Ed G., Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island
As the air brakes hiss, hearts beat faster, palms sweat, breaths become shorter and a bus of hopeful recruits are unified by the fear of the unknown.
These are the experiences of so many recruits who have passed through Parris Island's main gate.
Upon arriving, recruits are greeted by a drill instructor and ordered to get off the bus and onto Parris Island's legendary yellow footprints.
"It's a privilege to be the first drill instructor they see and to give them the yellow footprints speech, " said a receiving senior drill instructor with Recruit Processing Company, Support Battalion.
These are the words all recruits hear once they are on the yellow footprints: "You are now aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island South Carolina, and you have just taken the first step toward becoming a member of the world's finest fighting force, the United States Marine Corps."
While standing on the yellow footprints, the recruits also receive a brief on how to stand at the position of attention, the difference between civilian laws and the Uniform Code of Military Justice, what it means to be a Marine and finally how thousands of Marines have stood on those very same yellow footprints before they have.
The new recruits then walk very quickly to two large, silver doors. They will pass through these doors one time and never again. As the silver hatches close behind them, a chapter of their lives closes too and a new chapter begins.
Recruits have been stepping on the yellow footprints and walking through the silver hatches for countless cycles. It is their official threshold into a new reality.
"I think that the tradition of the yellow footprints and the silver doors is important," said another receiving senior drill instructor. "It's what Parris Island is known for. It's important for them to know that once they enter through those hatches they begin the transformation from civilian to Marine."
January 5, 2015:
The yellow footprints as seen in the evening just prior to the bus load of recruits arriving.
— USMC Photo (San Diego).