MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Each year The Marine Corps Battle Color Detachment from Marine Barracks Washington, D.C., travels the country to perform their National Installations Tour. Featuring the U.S. Marine Drum & Bugle Corps, the U.S. Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon and the Official Color Guard of the Marine Corps, these men and women spend weeks on the road delivering crisp and vibrant music with jaw-dropping drill moves. Their last stop on the tour was Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C.
Marines, sailors, family and friends packed the stands to enjoy the festivities March 14. The overflow of spectators from the bleachers created a giant circle around the performance where people were cheering and clapping for the group.
“The performance was phenomenal,” said Marcie Friesner, wife of Staff Sgt. Anthony J. Friesner, an infantry unit leader with 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division. “I mean I couldn’t say enough nice things about it if I tried. I have a musical background myself. I played the tuba in a marching band so seeing them was phenomenal.”
Friesner chaperoned a class of nine students to the performance and said she takes the group on two field trips a month. With eight of the nine children’s parents all being active military, she said it was extremely special for them to attend the event.
“We’ve been all over North Carolina and the kids say this is one of the best field trips they’ve been on; we were really impressed with everything,” said Friesner. “I wish they did this more often. It was really cool to bring the kids out to an event like this. We really don’t get the opportunity to do stuff like this.”
The BCD hit the road March 1, and packed 18 performances in less than three weeks. The group specifically stopped at Marine Corps installations and also made several public appearances at schools as well. Master Gunnery Sgt. Kevin Buckles, the U.S. Marine Drum & Bugle Corps drum major, said that prior to the tour the entire detachment spent countless hours training.
“We started in Yuma,Arizona on February 6th and that’s our annual training where we learn everything that you saw here today,” said Buckles. “We were training 16 to 18 hours a day, six days a week there. Depending on what was going on, sometimes we would go seven days.”
For Pfc. Jordan Zwally, being a member of the Silent Drill Platoon is very rewarding. He said that although he is on the road a lot and far from home, he enjoys seeing the crowd’s reaction and the positive effect their performance has on them.
“When we’re performing for Marines, families or any audience I know we’re motivating them and it’s motivating for us as well,” said Zwally. “Its difficult being away from home, but this is the end of the tour. Once we’re done here we’re going to load up the busses, change over and then we’re right back to D.C. where I’m closer to my family.”
The BCD travels more than 60,000 miles a year performing at various venues and events. Buckles said that the Marines who perform have a unique connection with the public and leave a lasting impression on those who get a chance to see them. In the end all of the hard work and dedication they put in is well worth it, he said.
“We’re here to inspire them,” said Buckles. “Everyone really enjoys the variety of music we perform and they enjoy the Silent Drill Platoon. Afterwards, giving the public the time to spend with them up close and personal, shaking hands and taking pictures, really goes a long way and puts a good face on the Marine Corps.”