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Battle Color Ceremony inspires spectators

By Marti Gatlin | | March 24, 2011

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For one Sylvester, Ga., resident, the annual Battle Color Ceremony, March 16, at Schmid Field here held special meaning.

George Hoag, who served on the Silent Drill team from 1959 to 1962, watched the ceremony performed by the U.S. Marine Corps Battle Color Detachment, comprised of the U.S. Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon, U.S. Marine Corps Color Guard and U.S. Marine Drum and Bugle Corps.

Hoag, a civil servant who works in Atlanta, took a day off to attend the event. He described the ceremony as “excellent, outstanding. The Silent Drill Team brought back a lot of memories. I enjoyed it. I still get goose bumps watching them come on (the field). They’re perfect,” he said.

Hoag noted he was 18 when he became a member of the Silent Drill Platoon and he’s seen them perform five times since he served with them — four times in Washington, D.C., and the first time here, March 16.

He spent several minutes talking with Silent Drill Platoon members Lance Cpls. Anthony Smith and Joedy Petit.

Petit said he’s met one other former Silent Drill Platoon member in Boston during a performance.

“It’s definitely an honor (to meet Hoag),” the 20-year-old said.

Smith, 19, said Hoag was “the first person I’ve met who has been on the Silent Drill Team. It’s great seeing how it’s bringing back (his) memories of (his) experiences in the platoon.”

Marine Corps Logistics Command officials hosted the annual Battle Color Ceremony and Maj. Gen. James A. Kessler, commanding general, Logistics Command, served as the ceremony’s reviewing officer. Dougherty County Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard was this year’s guest of honor.

Kessler depicted the exhibition as “impressive to watch.”

The Marine Corps Color Guard is the service’s official color guard and carries with them the only official Battle Color of the Marine Corps. The Battle Color bears 50 streamers representing U.S. and foreign awards earned by the Corps in its 235-year history.

Spectators — Marines, two Gold Star families, civilian-Marines, contractors, communities’ members and families clapped and cheered as the U.S. Marine Drum and Bugle Corps, also known as “The Commandant’s Own,” began the show. The unit combines contemporary songs and traditional music with choreographed drill movements in its program, “Music in Motion.”

A Gold Star family is any member of an immediate family of a person who died in a combat zone while a member of any branch of the armed forces, according to http://goldstarfamily.us/default.aspx.

Gunnery Sgt. Fredrick Sloan, garrison supply, Logistics Support Division, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, escorted the Johnson family, whose Marine, Lance Cpl. Raymon Johnson, died on Oct. 13, 2010, in Helmand Province Afghanistan.

From Columbus, Ga., the 22-year-old lance corporal was a member of 1st Battalion, 8th Marines (RCT-2, 1 Marine Expeditionary Force Forward), 2nd Marine Division, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

First Sgt. James Watson, first sergeant, Inspector-Instructor, Detachment 2, Supply Company, escorted Brittany Sockalosky, wife of Cpl. Stephen Coty Sockalosky, from Cordele, Ga.

Sockalosky, a machine gunner with 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, Camp Lejeune, N.C., was wounded during combat operations in Afghanistan Oct. 3, 2009. He died Oct. 6, 2009, at a hospital near Frankfurt, Germany.

Sockalosky saw the show for the first time. Watson said she told him she thought it was a beautiful ceremony and she understood why her husband chose the Marine Corps out of all the other services to serve in.

Jordan Donaldson, 18, from Moultrie, attended his first Battle Color ceremony, March 16.

Donaldson leaves for Marine Corps basic training in June.

“It motivates me beyond motivation — gets my blood on fire watching them perform,” he said. “(Watching the performance) will help me tear through boot camp.”

Donaldson asked Lance Cpl. Mike Van Iperen, a member of the Silent Drill Platoon, several questions.

Van Iperen, 20, from Lake Wilson, Minn., described performing and meeting community members like Donaldson as “awesome” and being able to showcase the Marine Corps as “really cool. I guess coming out here shows the public what the Marine Corps is. This shows them the discipline we have, the precision we have (and) generally what the Marine Corps is about.”


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