PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. - Only one long, narrow road leads on and off this island, an island shrouded in mystery. Young men and women come from across the country to venture down that road with only an inkling of what waits at its end.
For one new Marine, however, the marshes, sand fleas and constant hum of recruit training are nothing out of the norm, as this legendary island was once his home.
Pfc. Dylan Yagle is not as new to the Corps as one would believe seeing him among the hundreds of other fresh-faced Marines who graduated here Sept. 13, 2013. In fact, his father, Andrew Yagle, was once the highest ranking enlisted Marine on Parris Island, serving as the Marine Corps Recruit Depot’s sergeant major from June 2008 to July 2010.
“Dad was proud when I told him I wanted to join the Marine Corps,” said Dylan Yagle, Platoon 1068, Delta Company, 1st Recruit Training Battalion. “He would have let me follow any career path, but he was happy I was carrying on the family thing.”
Between the family’s constant moves and his father’s deployments, Dylan Yagle said he found it difficult growing up with a Marine as a father. When he grew older, though, he came to appreciate his dad’s hard work.
“The way my dad held himself in front of other Marines made me want to be like him,” said Dylan Yagle, 18, who lived in Fort Mill, S.C., before enlisting. “I joined the Marine Corps because I understood how it worked as a unit and a band of brothers, and I wanted to be a part of it.”
His older brother also emulated his father. Capt. Austin Yagle earned his officer’s commission through a scholarship to Jacksonville University in Jacksonville, Fla., and is currently stationed at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.
“Coming here with my drill instructors knowing who my dad was just made me try to have more discipline,” said Dylan Yagle. “I tried to watch what I was doing because I knew they expected more from me. It was neat seeing parts of the island where I grew up; it was odd at the same time, though. The other recruits didn’t know where they were, so I kind of had an advantage.”
Coming back to Parris Island was rewarding for Andrew Yagle on many levels, as he was not only the parade reviewing official for his son’s graduation ceremony, but also back on the drill grounds where he once trained recruits.
“It’s very special to me to be able to do this,” said Andrew Yagle, a 52-year-old Miami native, who served in the Marine Corps from June 1979 to July 2010. “I was also a 1st Battalion drill instructor, so … I’m really excited to see my son walk across the parade deck.”
Dylan Yagle is scheduled to report to follow-on infantry training at Camp Lejeune, N.C., on Sept. 23, 2013.
Leaving the island he’s called home for the last 13 weeks, traveling back down the road that once brought him here as a boy, Dylan Yagle now begins his own journey as a Marine, both familiar and new.