Parris Island's Iron Mike is depicted carrying a Maxim machine gun over his right shoulder and an M1911 pistol in his raised left hand. It was created as a memorial to all of the Parris Island graduates killed during World War I.
The statue itself is approximately life-sized, standing about 8 feet (2.4 m) high from the heel of his boot to the muzzle of his pistol, and is mounted on a 5-foot (1.5 m) granite base. It was created by Robert Ingersoll Aitken, the sculptor of the pediment on the United States Supreme Court Building, and cast in bronze. Officially entitled Monument to U.S. Marines, Iron Mike was dedicated in 1924 in a ceremony presided over by Commandant John A. Lejeune. Due to changes and construction around Parris Island, Iron Mike was relocated in 1941 and now stands in front of the Parris Island Headquarters and Service Battalion Barracks.
The bronze plaque, mounted on the base, reads: "In memory of the men of Parris Island who gave their lives in the World War, erected by their comrades."
Erected 1928 by American Legion Rifle Platoon of Florence, under the auspices of Fred H. Sexton Post No.1 American Legion and the American Legion Auxiliary.
Full-length bronze figure of a World War I United States Marine. He wears a uniform with hat and boots. In his hands he holds a gun horizontally across the front of his body. His gaze is directed to the left. The figure stands on a stone base resembling a pile of stones. The back stone rises behind the figure to knee height. The sculpture and base stand on a square pedestal of concrete covered with stucco.
The original sculpture, “Crusading for Right” by the French sculptor, Charles Raphael Peyre, was commissioned by U.S. Army General Pershing at the end of WWI. Pershing wanted the sculpture to commemorate the U.S. Army Doughboy. Peyre, who was not aware of the differences between the U.S. services, used a Marine Private as the model for the statue. He made the sculpture in full detail of the Marine – right down to the eagle, globe and anchor on the helmet.
Army Gen. Pershing was not happy with the finished design and declined the sculpture. Fortunately, Marine Gen Smedley Butler did like the sculpture. Gen. Butler took up a collection from Marines, purchased the original full scale sculpture and had it placed in front of the Headquarters Building (Butler Hall) on Marine Corps Base Quantico where the sculpture became known as "Iron Mike".
The statue was begun in 1918 and first exhibited at the Exposition des Beaux Arts of the Grand Palaise des Champs-Élysées, in Paris in May 1919. Marine Officers and Enlisted donated money to purchase the statue, and it was sited in front of the Base Headquarters, Building 1019, in Quantico, Virginia, some 75 miles from DC. Three tablets were erected in the memory of the officers and men of the 6th Machine Gun Battalion, 5th Regiment and 6th Regiment, United States Marines, "who gave their lives for their country in the World War in 1918" by the Thomas Roberts Reath, Marine Post No. 186, American Legion, on November 10, 1921. On December 8, 1921, the statue was dedicated.
Today, a replica of this statue stands in front of the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, Virginia. On that statue's base is the name "Iron Mike". The original statue remains in front of Butler Hall, home of the Marine Corps Training and Education Command.
The Memorial is located in the center of town. The bandstand was built with the sweat and loyalty of Spillville community members to honor those that served for the cause of liberty and equality.
The Civic Improvement Association held dances to raise the money to build the memorial. The Memorial was dedicated on July 4, 1921. Brass plaques hold the names of those who served their country.