MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Most children in America go into kindergarten with endless dreams, many of them hoping to one day become doctors, astronauts, pilots, professional athletes and more. A recent survey showed, however, only 16 percent of adults actually grow up to live out their dream. One Lancaster, Pa., native took to his musical roots to assure his shot at becoming what he’s always wanted to be: A United States Marine.
Staff Sgt. Steven Williams, a trumpet player with the 2nd Marine Division Band, took the final steps in reaching his dreams by recently earning a spot on “The President’s Own” Marine Corps Band.
The President’s Own is full of rich history, tradition and whose prime mission is to provide music for the President and the commandant of the United States Marine Corps. Williams will be taking on the challenge of leading the Marine Musicians as the assistant drum major.
The 28-year-old’s mission will be to lead the band in ceremonial commitments and, as the company gunnery sergeant, will be responsible for unit and new member training. This is the first time The President’s Own has selected a new drum major who wasn’t already a drum major as his military occupational specialty.
“He’s a trumpet player, and working as the drum major was not his job,” explained Master Gunnery Sgt. Matthew Boatright of Fort Wayne, Ind., and the officer in charge for the 2nd Marine Division Band. “He was able to beat out at least four other (military occupational specialty) drum majors. He’s got great skills, and the downside is our band will be losing him.”
Boatright went on to say that he is a great representation of the field bands and pleased Williams is moving on to bigger and better things. Bigger and better is what Williams said he has strived for his entire life.
“As far as putting in the time, I definitely put in the time and I always tried to be the best at that,” said Williams, who grew up constantly striving to perfect his musical abilities. “I didn’t want to be the guy who could get the band around the field; I wanted to be the guy that the band wanted to be, the guy that inspires people to do well.”
He has a work ethic that is continually inspiring both the young and older Marines. Williams said it is driven by the love for his wife and kids, as well as the discipline and motivation instilled in him by his parents and uncle, who played a big role in his decision to become a Marine.
Growing up in a community propelled by music, young Williams took to music like a baby takes to walking: it just came naturally. Williams said he likes to consider the haircut his uncle, who is also a Marine, gave him at age three as the first real haircut he had ever had.
“I’ve had a high and tight since I was three,” said Williams. “I was always either bald or with the haircut I have today.”
Williams was proud of the haircut because it was something so simple that brought him that much closer to becoming a Marine. When it came down to decision time, the young trumpet enthusiast wasted no time in enlisting on his 17th birthday, two days after 9/11.
Now, Williams will be leaving a band he dedicated endless hours of his time to make it better and as well as the logistical side. Boatright, who oversees everything that happens within the band, knows it will be tough for the band to lose such a hard working Marine. But, he is sure Williams inspired enough hearts and minds to keep them going strong.
“It’s going to take at least two Marines to fill what he ‘s doing for us now,” explained Boatright. “Logistically, musically and as a staff noncommissioned officer, he talks the talk and walks the walk. We have a lot of Marines who look up to him and say, ‘I want to be like Staff Sgt. Williams, I want to do what he’s doing,’ and that’s what you want out of a leader.”
Williams feels he is ready to take on the responsibility that lies ahead for him as the assistant drum major, but wanted to leave his Marines with these words
“I want them to always have that underdog mentality,” concluded Williams. “You know, when I went into that board against three other Marines who were all senior to me and had all held the drum major billet before, it seemed I was the least common denominator in the decision of who was going to get the position. So, I think that’s a good example of when it seems impossible, keep fighting for what you want and you’ll get it, eventually.”