The United States Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon spent about nine hours on campus March 30, but that short visit will have a lasting impact on the Culver drill teams and honor units that the Marines interacted with.
The elite 24-member drill team made the eight-hour bus trip from Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C., to spend an hour working with the CMA Exhibition Drill Team, the CGA Drill Team, the Honor Guard, and Color Guard. A tour of the campus, meals in the dining hall, and prep time led to a 15-minute formal performance in the Steinbrenner Recreation Building attended by the entire school before the Marines boarded the bus for the ride back to D.C.
The appearance was coordinated by CEF trustee Craig Duchossois ’62 of Chicago, who personally funded the travel expenses. No tax dollars were used to bring the USMC Silent Drill Platoon to Culver.
The purpose of the visit was to expose the Academies’ drill and honor units to “a unit that would motivate them and give them something to aspire to in their own performance on the parade field,” CMA Commandant Capt. Mike Neller said.
“Having another military organization reinforce what the cadets have already been taught is always a benefit,” Neller said. “It gives credibility to what we do. In addition, the military mentors can always learn from watching others coach and teach.”
For 60 minutes Wednesday morning, the Marines were anything but silent as they worked hands-on with students, instructing them on handling the rifle, decorum, attention to detail, pride in precision, cadence, and uniformity. The recreation building was alive with instructions, commands, movement, and the rhythmic sound of rifle butts and marching feet.
In that brief time “you could see the improvement, big time,” said USMC Lance Cpl. Jarris Wade, a member of the Rifle Inspection Team.
“Working with the Silent Drill Team was an honor and a tremendous learning experience,” said Alex Moser ’17 (LaPorte, Ind.), the CMA Regimental Color Sergeant Major. “Their attention to detail was outstanding.”
The Marines “were able to point out the smallest of details to improve, helping us deliver a sharper, more professional performance. Seeing firsthand the dedication these men put into their craft inspired all of us to approach our training with a new level of focus and commitment to excellence,” Moser said.
For Honor Guard Commander Anthony George ’16 (Carmel, Ind.), the Marines’ performance took honor and integrity to a different level. “I spoke with the Silent Drill Team Commander and it was evident that each and every one of their practices are sharp and focused. The drill platoon’s attention to detail was unmatched.”
For the Marines, the Culver practice session was their first time drilling with females. “It was new to us and to them,” said Marine Cpl. Jace Randle, Rifle Inspector.
“It isn’t often that our team has the opportunity to associate with visiting military groups. We appreciated the chance to work with the Silent Drill Team and apply what we learned about techniques and practice habits to our viewing of their performance,” said Catherine Bevil ’16 (Omaha, Neb.), a CGA Drill Team officer. “It was truly humbling to see professionals in action and reconsider the dedication it takes to reach that level of precision.”
“We did a few minutes on spinning, and I think that they were a little surprised that some of our girls could spin as well as they did.” said Cindy Krou, sponsor of the CGA Drill Team. “One of the great takeaways was the added confidence in their drill actions. The USMC team stressed power and confidence in their moves to help make them more precise.”
First Sgt. Sam Alameda, adviser to the CMA Exhibition Drill Team, said, “The help that each of those young Marines provided, even for just an hour, equaled six months of training that I could have given the cadets as a group. The look and smiles on the cadets’ faces told me a great deal.”
CMA Infantry Military Mentor Sgt. Jed Trefren hopes the Honor Guard “gains an understanding about the level of effort and dedication. Paying attention to the details . . . separates great from mere average. As they prepare for performances, we hope they will have renewed ambition to work on the details so that the whole Honor Guard can be greater than the sum of the parts.”
The afternoon performance “is a way to show what we taught in the morning,” said Marine Lance Cpl. Christopher Weddington, the Assistant Drill Master, “and what it takes to make the platoon professional.”
Members of The Marching Twenty-four arrived knowing very little about Culver Academies, but left with an appreciation of “the impressive campus” and the students. It was “eye-opening that there are kids willing to leave home and try something different,” Randle said.