News: Battle Color Detachment visits Okinawa
Story by Lance Cpl. Stefanie Pupkiewicz
The opulence and discipline of the Battle Colors Detachment from Marine Barracks Washington that performed on the Kubasaki High School football field on Camp Foster, March 4, is the polished product of years of hard work and training.
This was the first time in recent memory the full Battle Colors Detachment has come to Okinawa. Normally, a smaller detachment of Marines makes the overseas tour, according to Maj. Gen. Mary Ann Krusa-Dossin, the commanding general of Marine Corps Base, Okinawa, Japan
The "Commandant's Own," as the Marine Corps Drum and Bugle Corps is known started the show with elaborate formation marches while performing Frank Sinatra, a score from "Hair" and their rendition of "The Stars and Stripes Forever."
The "Commandant's Own" are professional Marines prescreened to be musicians during the recruiting process. They then go to recruit training and Marine combat training. Some go on to the music school house and into the fleet Marine Corps bands but others travel directly to Washington, D.C., to be in the drum and bugle corps.
"It's everything I've always wanted to do," said Lance Cpl. Caleb Steeo, a soprano bugle player with the Drum and Bugle Corps. Steeo started as a trumpet player in the fourth grade but after joining the "Commandant's Own" he became a soprano bugle player.
The drum and bugle corps differs from the fleet Marine Corps bands because they focus on field music rather than concert performances, said Cpl. Trevor Solberg, a bass drum player with the Drum and Bugle Corps.
"Besides, a band has woodwinds," he explained. The Commandant's Own only perform with brass and percussion instruments.
The Drum and Bugle Corps were followed at their evening performance by the precision movements of the Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon and the Marine Corps Color Guard.
"We're definitely not perfect but we strive for perfection," said Lance Cpl. Oscar Franquez, one of the 24 performing members of the Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon.
Marines in the platoon were offered the opportunity to volunteer for ceremonial duty at 8th and I, as the barracks is also known, while they are going through the school of infantry, said Cpl. Robert Dominguez, the 62nd Drill Master of the Silent Drill Platoon.
Those infantry Marines who volunteer and have the right timing go through the school to become part of the platoon.
There are 38 members of the platoon with 24 performers and 14 supernumeraries, Dominguez said.
The Marine Corps Color Guard followed the Silent Drill Platoon by posting the colors while the Drum and Bugle Corps played "The Star-Spangled Banner."
The event came to a conclusion with a pass and review before Krusa-Dossin. The performing Marines then made time to meet the audience on the field.
During this meet and greet, children attending the event took an interest in the musical instruments of the members of the drum and bugle corps particularly the large bass drums.
Solberg and his fellow percussionists helped some of the more curious children into the harness that supports the drum on the Marines while they perform. The harness is a stiff structure that goes over the head and sits on the shoulders holding the drum in the front of body.
Some of the children delighted in it, and others needed help holding the drums up because the drums weight threatened to tip them over.
While the interest of the children is something anticipated at most performances, the feeling of playing on Okinawa was something unique, Solberg said. The larger the crowd the more motivation he feels, he said, but the "Japanese and American cultures coming together to watch us," added to the feeling.
The Battle Colors Detachment performed the following day on Camp Hansen, and is continuing on its tour of the Pacific which will end this month in California.