NEW ORLEANS - In order to live up to the words of their Hymn, Marines prepare themselves mentally and physically to operate in any clime and place.
From the freezing temperatures of the Chosin Reservoir to the blistering heat in Iraq's deserts, Marines have made their mark in history by fighting in some of the most trying weather conditions imaginable.
This holds true even for units like the Marine Corps Mounted Color Guard, stationed on Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, Calif., said Gunnery Sgt. Daniel Garcia, staff noncommissioned officer in charge of the MCG. Although they are not a traditional deployable unit, the MCG performs in parades and ceremonies which may require them to stay outside in poor weather conditions for hours at a time.
This year was the first time the MCG participated in The Rex Parade, one of the longest running and most famous of Mardi Gras Parades in New Orleans, said Cpl. Bryanna Kessler, two-year stableman with the MCG. It was also the worst weather conditions she has had to ride through since being with the unit.
The parade route took the MCG through five miles of rain and freezing cold wind, said Sgt. Edgar Torrealba, NCOIC of the MCG. However, despite the trying weather conditions, the MCG performed with the same composure and professionalism that is expected from Marines.
The horses also had to deal with a different kind of parade environment, Torrealba explained.
“(There was) debris, beads … and railroad crossings covering the streets,” he said. “There was loud music all along the route, lots of different colors, and the parade stopped three times. However, just like Marines, the horses improvised, adapted and overcame.”
Plans had been in the works to do a Mardi Gras parade for the past three years, explained Torrealba. Unfortunately, financial and logistical constraints made that impossible until this year. So, despite the weather conditions, it was good to be able to get out and do the parade, he added.
In addition to being the first time the MCG participated in a Mardi Gras parade, this is the first time the MCG has participated in an event in the state of Louisiana, said Kessler. It's also one of the rare occasions the MCG has done an event east of the Mississippi.
“A lot of people don't know we (the MCG) even exist,” Kessler added. “Or they think we are limited to Southern California or the Southwest.”
The MCG wants more exposure in the eastern states … the only way to do that is to do events nation-wide, said Torrealba.
Due to the success of the parade, plans are already in the works for the MCG to come back next year, said Torrealba. If everything works out, the MCG will return next year and have an increase in nation-wide events.