Drill Is Life
(May 13, 2010)
|Washington, D.C. (MCN - 5/10/2010) — As the bus pulls through the gates aboard
Camp Foster, a faint sound of music plays over the speakers. Conversations echo
throughout the bus as the Marines of the Silent Drill Platoon stand, swaying
back and forth from the motion of the vehicle. |
In the front of the bus, Lance Cpl. Oscar Franquez stares out the window. The
expression on his face reveals the amount of dedication and concentration that
lies within him. Franquez is part of the inspection team, and although its hours
until the performance, he is already visualizing the drill sequence in his head.
He knows the routine must be flawless. The platoon is constantly in the
spotlight, being praised and critiqued by everyone they encounter. For this
reason, the Marines are meticulous when it comes to, well, being perfect. To
them, they represent every Marine in the Corps, so perfection isn't something to
attempt, it's expected.
|Marines with the United States Silent
Drill Platoon practice for the upcoming West Coast Tour in Yuma,
AZ on February 19, 2010.
ON THE ROAD |
For the Marines, travel is day after day. In just one week the Marines have
already traveled 7,000 miles and stopped at multiple destinations, including
the Marshall Islands, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.
Although they have traveled far, it's just the beginning. The Marines will
travel another 8,000 miles over the next two weeks, making stops in Guam,
Hawaii and California. Though the schedule is rigorous, the Marines
understand the importance of it.
While on the road, Marines are always armed with the essentials: a
BlackBerry, an IPod, a camera, headphones, and a good book. For them, these
simple comforts keep them connected to their friends and families while on
The platoon is a brotherhood. Each day they spend almost 12 hours a day
together. Even the Marines who are married sometimes find themselves
spending more time with the platoon then with their families.
Lance Cpl. Joshua Burke, the rifle inspector, is one of the few Marines in
the platoon who is married. Before leaving for the West Coast tour, Burke
and his wife had their first child, a baby girl. Being away from his family
is tough, but his wife's constant support allows him to focus on his
"My wife is very supportive of my career," Burke said. "Sometimes traveling
is tough; however, we just deal with it. We both understand the bigger
picture of what I represent."
|Gunnery Sgt. J.P. Johnson, the platoon
sergeant for the United States Marine Silent Drill Platoon,
marches his platoon during a performance aboard Camp Hansen in
Okinawa, Japan on March 5, 2010.
EARNING A SPOT|
The SDP is the hallmark of the Corps. These Marines are depicted in
commercials, posters, movies and magazines. They travel year round, spending
most of the year touring the nation and abroad, demonstrating the discipline
of the Marine Corps to both service members and civilians alike.
Although many people throughout the world have seen them perform, few people
actual know how these Marines are selected to be part of the platoon.
Members of the SDP are hand selected from the School of Infantry by senior
leadership from Marine Barracks Washington. For a Marine to be eligible to
be part of the platoon, he must first and foremost be an infantryman. A
Marine must also be between 6'0'-6'3" and meet other general requirements.
After Marines are selected and report to MBW, they will then be enrolled in
Ceremonial Drill School (CDS), to learn the basics of ceremonial drill.
Following CDS, and before becoming a member of the Silent Drill Platoon, the
Marines must complete Silent Drill School, which is a painstaking four
months of training.
According to the instructors, the school has one of the highest attrition
rates in the Marine Corps. While in school, the Marines practice their
precision drill routine, spending up to twelve hours daily perfecting each
"Marines who become members of the Silent Drill Platoon are Marines who have
earned it," said Cpl. Robert Dominguez, the drill master for SDP. "These
Marines have endured the rigorous schooling and have proved they are capable
of performing to the caliber that is expected from us."
|U.S.-Marines with the United States Marine
Silent Drill Platoon perform during the Friday Evening Parade at
Marine Barracks Washington. D.C. on May 7, 2010.
TRUE TO THE CORPS|
The Silent Drill Platoon has become synonymous with the word Marine. The
platoon understands that everyone who watches their performance will judge
the Marine Corps by what they see. They take pride in this fact, knowing
they remain committed to demonstrating the professionalism of our Corps.
"We get to carry on a tradition that was passed on to us," Franquez said.
"We put our blood, sweat and tears into this because the Marines before us
started a legacy of drill. It is our honor as members of the platoon to get
to carry that legacy forward."
Article and photo by USMC Cpl. Bobby J. Yarbrough
Marine Barracks 8th & I
Marine Corps News
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