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BCD, Albany Marine Band put on show for thousands

By Art Powell | | October 22, 2009

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An audience of more than 3,700 filled the Albany James H. Gray Sr. Civic Center Oct. 15 for the Battle Color Ceremony, according to Albany city officials.

It was the largest gathering to ever attend the Battle Color Ceremony at the facility since it has been offered there.

“This was a fantastic turnout tonight,” said Col. Terry V. Williams, commanding officer, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Ga. “I’ve seen this ceremony many times in my career, and it never gets old.”

The Battle Color Detachment is comprised of three performing ceremonial units from Marine Barracks Washington, D.C.: the Marine Corps Color Guard, the Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon, and the Marine Corps Drum & Bugle Corps. 

Due to last minute changes, the Drum and Bugle Corps was unable to participate in the Albany performance, so the Albany Marine Band was called in as a last-minute replacement and thrilled the crowd with their crisp performance. The Silent Drill Platoon is a 24-man rifle platoon that performs a unique precision drill exhibition. It first performed in the Sunset Parades of 1948 and received such an overwhelming response that it soon became a regular part of the parades at Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C.

Williams and the guest of honor, Dr. Sally Whatley, superintendent of the Dougherty County School System, were escorted to the civic center floor to review and spend a few minutes with members of the Silent Drill Platoon.

“We thanked them for their performance and service. But, for the most part, we wanted to thank them for the hard work they do and their service to this country,” Williams explained.

The crowd was made up of citizens of all ages, retired Marines and other military veterans, and many Junior Marine Corps Reserve Officer Training Corps detachments from across the region.

“This is the fourth time I’ve seen the ceremony,” said Lakandra Beeks, a MCJROTC cadet and high school senior from Dougherty Comprehensive High School in Albany, Ga. “It’s awesome and keeps me on the edge of my seat the whole time.” senior from Dougherty Comprehensive High School in Albany, Ga.

Impressions make by BCD members can last for years, especially for young people.

“I took my son to a Battle Color ceremony years ago when they were held on the base,” said Merrill Dickinson, base safety manager, Risk Management Division, MCLB Albany.

"The drummer in the Drum and Bugle Corps gave him a drum stick he had used in the ceremony. My son, now a teenager, still has that drum stick,” Dickinson said.

Citizens witnessing the Battle Color Ceremony for the first time seemed to leave with an appreciation for the work put into the performance and tradition it represented.

“I thought it was a well-disciplined show and I think it showed the time and practice they put into preparing for the performance,” said William Hancock, a member of a fifth generation Albany family who saw the show for the first time.

Spectators, from senior Marine Corps officers to first-timers, leaving the civic center, voiced a common thought that the Battle Color Ceremony was a memorable event.

“The turn-out tonight is an example of the support the community has shown the Marines here over the years,” said Col. Ben Braden, chief of staff, Marine Corps Logistics Command. “I’ve enjoyed Battle Colors every time I’ve seen it during my Marine Corps career.”


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