View Full Version : Marine drill team wows Parris Island crowd

10-22-04, 05:21 AM
Marine drill team wows Parris Island crowd
Published Wed, Oct 20, 2004

Gazette staff writer
Like fine-tuned machinery, the Marines of the Silent Drill Platoon marched in perfect step, their M-1 rifles snapping into white-gloved hands with every toss and spin.
The Marines, recruits and civilians watching Tuesday morning's ceremony at Parris Island "oohed" and "ahhed" with each twirl and flip of the fully functional rifles, which are equipped with fixed bayonets and weigh more than 10 pounds each.

A rifle hit the ground just once, but the platoon made up for it with a bevy of overhead tosses, those steel bayonets spinning just inches from their faces.

"It's an awesome, incredible group of Marines," said Staff Sgt. Dietrich McDonald, who watched the ceremony from the Peatross Parade Deck bleachers. "They're just the cream of the crop."

The Battle Colors Detachment, which also features the Marine Drum and Bugle Corps and the Marine Corps Color Guard, is based at Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C., and visits Beaufort every year. Following their morning performance at the Marine Corps recruit depot, the platoon was scheduled to perform at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort on Tuesday night.

"I love it," said Staff Sgt. Paul Sandy, a member of the Silent Drill Platoon for the past year. "It's one of the best jobs in the Marine Corps."

The detachment performs about 300 shows a year across the globe for fellow Marines, veterans and civilians.

"You get to travel a lot," Sandy said, adding that the detachment trains for about eight hours a day, eight months a year. "You get to meet a lot of people."

More importantly, Staff Sgt. Justin Bakewell, the detachment's public affairs officer, is the group's role in recruiting and introducing the Corps to people.

"We perform in front of people who don't know anything about the Marine Corps," Bakewell said. "That's one of my favorite parts of what we do, representing what the Marine Corps is all about. A lot of times, we're the first and only impression of Marines to people."

Dressed in bright red jackets and crisp white pants, the Marine Drum and Bugle Corps, known as "the commandant's own" performed music ranging from "God Bless America" and "Stars and Stripes Forever" to bluegrass numbers and songs from the movie "Pirates of the Caribbean."

The Marine Corps Color Guard carries the official battle colors of the Corps, a flag decorated with 51 streamers and silver bands commemorating the battles Marines have fought in from the American Revolution up to today.

And although it was his eighth time taking in the performance, McDonald said the ceremony never gets old.

"They do an outstanding job," he said. "It gets better every time."

Contact Michael Kerr at 986-5539 or mkerr@beaufortgazette.com.