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Marines from the Silent Drill Platoon flip their M-1 Garand rifles over their heads as part of a ceremonial rifle inspection during the Battle Color Ceremony at Lance Cpl. Torrey L. Gray Field Feb. 27.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Monica C. Erickson

‘Oldest Post of the Corps’ leaves Combat Center in awe

27 Feb 2009 | Lance Cpl. Monica C. Erickson

The United States Marine Corps Battle Color Detachment left the Combat Center in awe after their performance at Lance Cpl. Torrey L. Gray Field Feb. 27.
The Battle Color Detachment is comprised of the United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corps, United States Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon and Official Color Guard of the Marine Corps.
The ceremony opened with ‘The Commandant’s Own’ Drum and Bugle Corps marching onto the field in presentation of their 2009 edition of Music in Motion. The first song they played was a selection from Cole Porter’s award-winning musical “Kiss Me Kate.”
“The band was very good,” said Cpl. Ryan Wongwai, a supply administrator for the Exercise Support Division. “It was a lot better than I thought it would be. It was very organized and the music was great.”
The Drum and Bugle Corps closed their performance with John Phillip Sousa’s signature work “The Stars and Stripes Forever,” then stepped aside as the Silent Drill Platoon slowly marched onto the field.
The 24 Marines of the Silent Drill Platoon, which is also known as the “Marching 24,” performed synchronized drill movements without commands or cadences while carrying M-1 Garand rifles with bayonets attached. 
Murmurs and gasps raced through the crowd as the rifles spun through the air, bayonets flying within mere inches from the Marines.
‘They are truly the best’ one woman whispered as she sat in the silence of the crowd who were listening solely to the clicks and thumps made by the Silent Drill Platoon.
The routine concluded with a unique rifle inspection that included elaborate rifle spins and tosses.
“I like being able to represent the Marine Corps in a positive way,” said Lance Cpl. Zachary Sturges, a member of the Silent Drill Platoon. “It is good for people to see the overall discipline Marines have.”
Sturges received the nickname “Old Dog” for scoring the highest grade for the second-year Marines during Challenge Day, which is when the Marines of the Silent Drill Platoon compete for key positions in the “Marching 24.”
“Marines were screened during School of Infantry,” said Sturges, while explaining what it takes to become a member of the platoon. “If the Marines passed the screening they attended a four-month long school.”
During school Marines were not only trained in drill, but had to prove they had the right attitude to become a member of the “Marching 24” by taking an active role in the platoon and having an overall positive mind-set.
Silence fell over the crowd as Marines and civilians stood to honor and salute the official battle colors of the Marine Corps as they were marched onto the field.
There are 54 streamers and silver bands that represent military campaigns the Marine Corps has been involved in dating back to the Revolutionary War. 
At the end of the ceremony, Marines from the Silent Drill Platoon met with members of the audience and let Combat Center Marines and children from Condor, Twentynine Palms and Landers elementary schools look at their rifles and explained what it took to become part of the Silent Drill Platoon.
Every year, the Battle Color Detachment visits the Combat Center as part of their West Coast tour. They will be performing today at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., and tomorrow at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Calif.

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