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Marine marches to different beat, leads from front

By Sgt. Joshua Bozeman | | January 16, 2003

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It's easy to find a world of differences between playing a bass guitar and leading a marching band across a parade deck, but one MCLB Albany Marine says they both boil down to one thing: rhythm.

Staff Sgt. Michael L. Diuguid recently made the transition from bass guitarist to assistant drum major of the MCLB Albany Marine Band and so far, he hasn't missed a beat.

Diuguid took up the challenge of the new position when his superiors recommended he try for the position.

The staff sergeant took up the challenge, and in doing so, exchanged his four-string guitar for a mace. Not the medieval spiked ball chained to a small baton, but the drum major's tool used to help keep the rhythm and the band in step.

Diuguid was put to the test for the first time Friday when he led the band in the sergeants major post and relief/retirement ceremony.

With the drum major at the gunnery sergeant course, the duties of getting the band ready and marching them on the parade deck fell to Diuguid.

Diuguid said it was a great honor for his first ceremony to be for a sergeant major with 30 years service in the Marine Corps.

"It was awesome to be able to play for someone with his [Sgt. Maj. Charles Tonn] accomplishments," said Diuguid.

In addition to the obvious work on the parade deck, Diuguid said he was responsible for many behind-the-scenes tasks as well.

"I serve as sort of a go-between for the upper and lower ranks," he said. "I make sure the job gets done and everything runs smoothly."

According to Diuguid, the band serves as an augmentation force for the military police. When the two planes struck the twin towers in New York, band members were immediately called upon to man the gates with the MPs. And if necessary, they stand ready to do it again.

According to Diuguid, even though the Marines in the band are more accustomed to carrying instruments than weapons, they are Marines first, and if called upon they are ready to take on any challenge any future wars or conflicts might bring.

"We're ready," he said sternly.

Diuguid has played the base guitar for 14 years. He attended Five Towns College, a highly focused music school in New York, and entered the Marine Corps as a bass guitarist, which is no easy task.

"There is one bass guitarist for each band, and there are 12 bands in the Marine Corps," said Diuguid.

The musical veteran said he joined the Marine Corps simply because he wanted to be the best. Eight years, six ranks and numerous accolades later, he still feels he has a long way to go to reach his original goal.

"I'll have to do 20 years before I accomplish what I set out to do," he said with a smile, "though I do want to keep my options open."

Diuguid said he is looking forward to one day being a drum major, but is also interested in other areas of Marine Corps leadership.

"I would like to do MSG duty[Marine Security Guard duty at an embassy or consulate] or go to the drill field," he said. And as a staff noncommissioned officer in the band, he already has experience training younger Marines.

"The staff NCOs in the band have been certified as instructors with the baton," he said. "So if it comes down to it, we can train the Marines here to use it to aid with security aboard the base."

Diuguid is married to Jocelyn and they have one child, Morgan. But as long as he is a member of the band, the staff sergeant will have a very large extended family to keep in step.





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