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Battle Color Ceremony brings brass, bayonets to base

By Nathan L. Hanks Jr. | | March 20, 2014

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Steady rain wet Schmid Field Monday, but Marines are always prepared for any “clime and place.”

The wet grass didn’t keep the Marines of the Battle Color Ceremony from delighting the crowd with their precision movements, traditional marches and contemporary songs.

Comprised of three performing ceremonial units from Marine Barracks Washington, D.C., the Marine Corps Drum and Bugle Corps, Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon and the Marine Corps Color Guard make up the Battle Color Detachment.

The detachment is located at 8th and I, Marine Barracks Washington, the oldest active post in the Corps.

The detachment’s performance showcases the esprit de corps of the United States Marines and recognizes those serving around the world, who exemplify honor, courage and commitment.

Base officials estimated there were about 2,200 people who attended the ceremony.

According to Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany’s Commanding Officer Col. Don Davis, the event serves not only as a showcase, but a way for the Marine Corps to show appreciation to the community.

“It means a lot to have the Battle Color Detachment come to Southwest Georgia, to our community and give us a little taste of the Marine Corps,” he said. “This is a great opportunity for our Marines to see some of their own they have never seen.”

The ceremony began with several performances by the unit, the U.S. Marine Drum and Bugle Corps that is commonly known as "The Commandant’s Own." The Drum and Bugle Corps, which is comprised of more than 80 Marine musicians, entertained the crowd with marches and songs called “Music In Motion.” They closed the show, with their performance of John Phillip Sousa’s “The Stars and Stripes Forever.”

Following the Drum and Bugle Corps, the Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon took the field.

The 24-man rifle platoon performed silent and precise exhibition drill movement while maneuvering M1 Garand rifles, each weighing 10.5 pounds. With fixed bayonets atop their highly polished M1 rifles, the Marines entertained the audience with their drill routines, performed without verbal commands.

The Silent Drill Platoon's rifle inspector highlighted the performance with an unrivaled inspection of his Marines, performing difficult rifle spins and exchanges.

Concluding the ceremony was a presentation of the national flag and Marine Corps official colors known as the Battle Colors of the Marine Corps. The 54 streamers and silver bands displayed on the battle colors commemorate the military campaigns in which Marines have participated. They span the entire history of the nation, from the American Revolution to the present.

The color sergeant is responsible for carrying the national ensign and is considered the senior sergeant in the Marine Corps.

Color Sergeant of the Marine Corps Sgt. Allen Banks Jr., a native of Savannah, Ga., has held his current position since January.

Even though it was raining, Banks said he enjoyed performing in his home state.

“It reminds us why we do it,” Banks said. “To see the smiles on the children’s faces, their motivation and them coming up to you, saying ‘I want to be like you one day,’ is a great feeling.

“When we do performances and people say thank you for your service, it builds a deeper appreciation because we do fight for them,” he said. 

After the ceremony, the attendees were able to interact with the performers. Many shook hands and took pictures, while others asked questions about the uniform, instruments and rifles.

Michael Norman, his wife, Gayle, and young son were among the roughly 2,200 people who watched the ceremony.   

“I was very impressed with the Marines' performance, but I was really blown away with how friendly and approachable they all were after the ceremony was over,” Michael Norman said. “It's actually hard for me to come up with the right words to describe what a positive impact that made on me. It's almost as if they were excited to see me there, impressive.”

The ceremony had a special meaning for Norman because his son, Lance Cpl. Daniel Bastos has been stationed in Okinawa, Japan, for 11 months.

“This is our first time seeing the ceremony,” Norman said. “You can tell they work hard to be the best of the best and it makes us even more proud to be parents of a Marine.”


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