Pfc. Mark Bashnick isn’t the first child to follow his parents into the family business.
But when the 19-year-old Savannah resident graduated from training Oct. 31 at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, he not only joined the vast esprit de corps of the Marines but a small cadre of leathernecks whose parents each served the Corps.
In fact, Bashnick could think of only one other family like his own. Without his parents’ experiences in the Marines, he would have never marched the parade ground at Parris Island last month, he said.
Bashnick’s father, Chris Bashnick, and his mother, Kimberly Tatro of Hilton Head Island, were both Marines in the late 1980s and early 1990s and met while they were in the Corps. By the time he was born, his parents had retired from service, but he became steeped in their stories.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The State
“I saw the pride in my family, and I heard the stories they would tell,” said Bashnick, who was about 9 when he knew he wanted to be a Marine. “They would talk about the loyalty they felt to the Marine Corps. I had never seen that pride and brotherhood anywhere else.”
Tatro said her son’s recent graduation brought back memories of her time on Parris Island.
She said the values of the Marine Corps haven’t changed since she walked the same parade ground in 1986, but the physical training has. For instance, the mile-and-a-half run requirement she had to complete is now three miles. The Corps also added the Crucible in 1996 — a rigorous 54-hour field-training exercise she didn’t have to endure.
“The physical fitness is amazing,” Tatro said. “I don’t know if I could’ve passed it.”
When Tatro saw her son for the first time since his enlistment, she could see how the experience had changed him.
“He went in this hyper teenager and came out a calm, very aware adult,” she said. “He’s left his childhood behind. My mother said she didn’t notice much change in me when I graduated.”
On Family Day, Tatro and her son shared memories of their experiences at Parris Island. Bashnick learned that he had slept in the same building his father had years ago.
“We shared what we went through,” he said. “We’re family, but we have a bond beyond that now.”
Bashnick will soon head to combat training in Camp Lejeune, N.C., but he’s destined for work on Marine airfields. Once he completes combat training, he’ll train in Pensacola, Fla., to become an aviation mechanic.
He might eventually be deployed to some of the same places as his mother, who worked in administration for the Marines’ aviation supply units. Among the stops was Hawaii, where Tatro and her husband met.
Tatro and her husband divorced in 1997. Now a Savannah resident, he declined to be interviewed. Tatro retired from the Marines in 1991 while pregnant with her first son. Her retirement came just before the start of Operation Desert Shield. Her husband served an 18-month deployment in Saudi Arabia in support of Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
Working in aviation might position Mark Bashnick to stay close to home at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, but he has other plans.
“I’ve always wanted to travel the world,” he said. “I’d like to go to Japan, to see where my father was stationed, and to Hawaii, where my parents met.”
The following events are planned Tuesday for Veterans Day in Beaufort County:
Beaufort — Parade begins at 9:30 a.m. at Beaufort National Cemetery, followed by 11 a.m. ceremony at the cemetery.
Hilton Head Island — Ceremony at the Shelter Cove Veterans Memorial begins at 10:30 a.m.
Sun City Hilton Head — Ceremony outside Magnolia Hall begins at 10 a.m.