Graduation is quite an achievement for young Marines who have conquered boot camp — but this year’s graduation is truly one for the ages.
Three hundred fifty young men and women are on the final leg of a life-changing journey through Marine boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina. It’s been 13 grueling, sometimes brutal, weeks. And for the first time since COVID-19 hit, all family members are allowed to attend the proud moment.
In attendance for graduation is legendary Marine. At 97, he is the last living Medal of Honor recipient from World War II. Among the new Marines passing in review is his great-grandson, Cedar Ross.
“The only advice I think I gave him was to do the very best that he could and then to do a little more,” Williams said.
Ross was about halfway through boot camp when his drill instructor realized he was the direct descendant of a Marine legend.
“The chief drill instructor told me, ‘Ross, you’re going to have big shoes to fill,'” Ross told CBS News. “I said, ‘Yes, sir. Thankfully, I wear size 15.'”
It’s been more than 75 years since Williams took out seven Japanese machine guns in the battle for Iwo Jima. But to him, what it means to be a Marine remains the same.
“They have said, ‘By taking that oath that you can take my life but you cannot take my country or my freedom,'” Williams said.