News: Semper Ten Split: Musical Marine knocks out tunes, bowling pins
Story by Kristen Wong
MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII - Master Gunnery Sgt. Mark Gleason knelt on the wooden floor after releasing his last ball toward the 10 white pins at the end of the lane. As fellow bowlers looked on, all 10 pins fell, earning his first 300 — a perfect game.
“He actually rolled on his back (like a) cockroach,” said Elden Doi, the manager of K-Bay Lanes.
For many Marines, a “300” score on the physical fitness test is perfection. For Gleason, “300” also happens to be perfection in his beloved hobby — bowling.
The bandmaster of the U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific Band bowled his first perfect game after more than 20 years while playing with the Friends of K-Bay Lanes Mixed Handicap Bowling League last month.
“It was a sense of relief,” Gleason said. “I’ve been trying for so long, (I felt) that sense of accomplishment and it was a lot of fun seeing the reaction of all my friends and other bowlers who were happy for me.”
Gunnery Sgt. Brad Rehrig, the drum major for the MarForPac Band, who has bowled with Gleason various times, said he was happy for him.
“He may have rolled a 300, but he hasn’t beaten my high series yet,” said Rehrig, of Lehighton, Pa. “Keep practicing Master Guns, one day you will beat me.”
Although he has had help along the way, Gleason said he never took formal bowling lessons. A native of Westminster, Colo., Gleason grew up accompanying his parents to various bowling tournaments. At the end of the events, Gleason’s parents would let him bowl a few times.
“It was just fun trying to throw it like (my parents) and the other people in the bowling alley who were really good,” Gleason said.
Gleason saw the Marine Corps as an opportunity to pursue a career in music, enlisting in 1987. He was first assigned to Marine Corps Base Hawaii in 2006, then returned in 2011.
Gleason has traveled the world, sharing his love for music with the Corps, but also his love for bowling.
No matter where he was stationed, Gleason continued to bowl, and by the age of 20 he began competing in bowling.
His competitive spirit began as early as high school, when he played basketball and baseball, enjoying the adrenaline rush that comes with competition.
“Bowling allows me to be competitive which I truly enjoy,” Gleason said.
While serving at MCB Hawaii, Gleason bowled in the Hawaii All-
Military tournament for four years, most recently bowling a combined score of 4,499.
“Every year he’s a delight to have,” said Millie L. Gomes, tournament director of the HAM. “(Gleason is) always positive no matter what the scores are.”
Rehrig remarked that even though he and Gleason are both competitive and have even bowled on rival teams, they both still help each other with pointers.
Gleason competed in several 101 Days of Summer Bowling Tournaments, with the MarForPac Band team and played on the All-Marine Bowling Team twice, which he considered an honor.
Doi described Gleason as “honorable,” because he is “down to Earth” and humble despite being talented.
“I think before Master Guns retires, he should be able to get a sanctioned 800 series,” Doi said.
Like a perfect 300-point game, an 800 series is also recognized as a bowling achievement, although Gleason is more focused on winning the HAM tournament before retiring.
Although he is not sure what he will do after retiring, Gleason will take away many memories of the Corps. Looking back, he said he found his time serving as a drill instructor most rewarding because he was able to nurture new recruits and watch their development in a three-month period.
While in the Corps, Gleason also visited two historical Marine Corps battlegrounds, Belleau Wood and Iwo Jima.
“To walk in the footsteps of those who came before us is pretty incredible,” Gleason said.
Gleason currently bowls three days a week, as much as three hours each day, usually participating with a league. He also enjoys hiking, running and surfing.
Through bowling he has built camaraderie with many Hawaii residents, bowling with them in the Friends of K-Bay Mixed Handicap Bowling League.
“Mark is a very dedicated bowler and enjoys himself,” said Leo Oller, a lead analyst at Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 24 and secretary and treasurer of the Friends of K-Bay Mixed Handicap Bowling League. “His personality when bowling is social, however, when he approaches the lane, it becomes all business.”
Gleason requested MCB Hawaii as his last duty station as he and his wife plan to settle permanently on the islands.
“I love the weather, the scenery, and I think the people, I like most of all,” he said. “I’ve grown to love the friendships and just the hospitality that the locals have shown toward me.”