Veteran Drill Instructors' Reunion - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

10/14/04

Veteran Drill Instructors' Reunion

Veteran Marines who trained other Marines to fight in World War II are back on Parris Island for their 14th and final reunion. Watching today's drill instructors and recruits brings back a lot of memories for them.

"It's nice to be back with fellas I served with," said attendee Joe Abernathy.

It may have been more than 50 years ago, but Tiny Renaker remembers being on the drill field, training his recruits for war like it was yesterday.

"Brings back a lot of memories," he said. "We didn't have all the equipment and facilities, but what we did have we worked them full steam from in the morning till night and we did a good job."

But at that time, they were training for a different kind of war.

"It's a different type of war," said Renaker. "We knew what we were getting into. We knew the Japanese and we trained our recruits to fight to the death if necessary and usually our boys came out on top."

Now years later, being back on the drill field makes many of these former drill instructors want to come back for more. "I'm a little physically hurt, but it makes you want to be able to do it," said Dick Donovan. "It's fun to watch these recruits."

"I wish I was that young and could do it again," Abernathy said. "I could do it at 17 not 80."

Although times have changed, these veterans say Marines are still Marines. And for these Marines, this is their final reunion on the drill field, as they say they're getting a little too old. 

"Whenever I leave here, it's going to be rough," said Renaker.

These former drill instructors have met at Parris Island off and on over the past 22 years.

Reported by: Jaime Dailey, jdailey@wtoc.com

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