Military News

Parris Island commanding general changing roles, reflects on tenure (plus video)

After three years as the commanding general of Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, Brig. Gen. Lori Reynolds is heading to a new position at the Pentagon.

The Baltimore native cemented her place in Corps history in June 2011, when she became the first female commander at Parris Island. She reflected on her career and her time in South Carolina during a wide-ranging interview Friday, a week ahead of the recruit depot's official change-of-command ceremony.

After departing from Parris Island, Reynolds will go to Washington, D.C., to become the principal director to the deputy assistant secretary of defense for South and Southeast Asia. She will work on U.S. military policy in that region.

Reynolds said she was humbled to learn she would be the commanding general at Parris Island. Her first day on the job marked only her second time on the base.

"Parris Island is what you hear stories about," she said. "My first thought was, 'Oh my.' I understand the tremendous responsibility of upholding the legacy of this depot."

Reynolds said she has built connections to both the depot's recruits and the community's veterans, whom she called central to Beaufort County's culture.

"I say hello to a lot of people," she said. "Beaufort is a small place. The people of Beaufort are like none other, and the support we get here is amazing."

Although she's now one of the highest-ranking women in the Marine Corps, Reynolds said she went into the Naval Academy unsure of what direction she wanted to go after graduation. A varsity basketball player and captain of her team, Reynolds found an answer from one of her coaches, who served as a Marine.

Reynolds had a career of firsts while rising through the ranks, including stops in Washington and deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Reynolds briefly addressed the departure of Parris Island's sergeant major, Paul Archie, who resigned Monday after being charged with third-degree assault following an incident with a protester near the base. Reynolds said Marines are held to high standards, but commended Archie on his service.

"Sgt. Maj. Archie is a phenomenal Marine, and I'm proud of the job he did here," she said. "I hope recruits look at his service and say, 'I want to be like him.'"

Reynolds said she was confident in the recruit depot's future, even in the face of possible funding cuts to the Marine Corps.

"This is where you learn the foundations of how you think as a Marine and what's important as a Marine," she said. "I absolutely believe in what we do here."

Reynolds will officially cede her title to Brig. Gen. Terry V. Williams, the Marine Corps' director of public affairs, in a ceremony June 20. His appointment as Parris Island's commander will also be a historic moment, as well -- Williams will become the first African-American to lead the recruit depot.