The 8th & I Reunion Association
An organization of Marines
who served at
8th & I Streets, S.E.,
The "Commandant's Own" Drum and Bugle Corps
"The Commandant's Own," The United States Marine Drum & Bugle Corps, will begin its 75th Anniversary
Season in 2009.
The U.S. Marine Drum & Bugle Corps was formed on November 4th 1934 to perform ceremonies at the Marine
Barracks, Washington, D.C., and to augment the Marine Band. The Music In Motion presentation is part
of the Marine Battle Color Detachment, which also features the U.S. Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon
and Marine Corps Color Guard.
The Battle Color Detachment will perform both nationally and internationally throughout 2009. For
more program information and the schedule of events, please visit the D&B's web site by
Some of our members served in [as we knew it] the "D&B" in addition to their service either in
the Ceremonial Company or the Marine Corps Institute Company.
One of the highlights of our parades is the D&B, which appears in each of the
Evening Parades held on Friday nights during the parade season at the Barracks
click here for film clip
as at the Tuesday afternoon parades during the summer at the Marine War Memorial
click here for film clip
To view D & B pictures from the 1940's, 1950's, and 1960's, which
were submitted by D & B Marine Mario Silvestrini, 1956-60 /
1962-69 / USMC 1955-1974, Brigantine, NJ, please click here .
Master Sgt. Kevin Buckles salutes the reviewing official after the D&B's performance
of the 2008 edition of "Music In Motion" at the Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Va., July 29 2008.
The two pics above were taken in Scotland, 1958. These shots were of the D&B as we performed for the U.S. Air Force at the base near Edinburgh. There were only half the D&B Corps. there for the Edinburgh detail because the remainder stayed at 8th & I for regular D&B duties. Eugene Belschner was Drum Major.
(left to right) Tony Aloi, Hal Orme, Bill Marshall, & Gene Loss.
(left to right) Hal Orme, Gene Loss, Bill Gardner posing at Edinburgh Castle.
A bunch of the D&B (left to right top: Weda, Phillips, Marshall, Hall, unsure, Gardner. bottom: unsure, Loss.) having some "down time" in front of our barracks in Edinburgh.
Photos of the "Commandants Own" of 1958. The above three photos were taken as we were performing at the World's Fair in Brussels
The above two were the Tuesday afternoon gigs along with the CGC at the War Memorial.
Camp Perry, OH 1957
Photos submitted by Bill Marshall Sgt., 8th & I D&B member '57-59, Akron, OH.
Drum and Bugle Corps (in 60's)?
1953 Drum and Bugle Corps
1953 Drum and Bugle Corps
(Items submitted by Wayne Pilny)
5-5-14 ... HEY GUYS,
I'm pretty sure that most of you remember Jon Rogers very, very well. He was
one of those very rare guys who could say something really wild and get away
My first range detail down to Quantico it rained and snowed almost every day.
I was a Cpl still and Jon was a LCpl. We were being harassed unmercifully by
the Range Detail pukes from Quantico. They even managed to piss off our
officers and SNCO's. We were wet, cold and miserable and towards the end of
the first week all the Sgt's and below were formed up by the Range MGySgt and
out marched the LtCol who commanded the Range Cadre. He paraded back and forth
in front of us haranguing us about being 8th & I pukes and not real Marines
amongst many other noted shortfalls. Finally he halted and in a rage asked if
anyone had any questions. That was when I fell in love with Jon Rogers. He
sounded off, “YES SIR!” He then took a full step forward and in a smoothing
voice said, “Sir I believe that I speak for every Marine in this detail when I
say that without a doubt this is the suckiness and most fucked up detail we have
ever been on, Sir!” He whipped off his utility cover and threw it down into
the mud and jumped up and down on it a couple of times, picked it up and put it
back on his head with mud dripping over him, stepped smartly back into the ranks
and said, “Sir! The Lance Corporal Thanks the Lieutenant Colonel for the
privilege of saying a few words. SIR!” The range cadre MGySgt was racing
towards Rogers and the LtCol was standing there with his lips moving attempting
to say something with no success wen finally the Range Cadre 1stSgt roared,
Later on that evening we learned that a whole list of report slips had been sent
up to the Barracks by the LtCol. The next morning Col Carney and the Barracks
SgtMaj showed up in their dress greens walking up and down the firing line.
When we moved back to the 300 yard line for a string of rapid fire the Range
Cadre MGySgt accidentally left his “silver bullet” gallon coffee jug sitting on
one of the benches at the 200 yard line. He saw it just as the command to
commence fire was given to the Officers and SNCO's on that relay and raced to
the control tower shouting to cease fire. Well it appeared that every shooter
on that firing line fired their 10 rounds and when the targets rose out of the
butts every single target had 10 hits on them. The MGySgt demanded a recheck of
all the targets. We were all attempting not to burst out into laughter because
that beautiful silver bullet coffee jug had literally jumped all over the place
as those rounds ripped through it. It had to have been hit at least 50 times.
We later learned that Col Carney and our SgtMaj met with the LtCol who commanded
the Range Cadre where he torn up all the report chits on us and in his
gentlemanly manner explained how he expected his troops to be treated for the
rest of our tour on the range. There was a marked improvement in how we were
treated and before Col Carney left he approached LCpl Rogers and said he was
amazed at how much of the mud he had gotten out of his utility cover, patted him
on the back, smiled and marched off.
Another one of those “gifted” guys who would get away with murder was Ron
George. I recall one day we were not performing a particular passage of a tune
we were rehearsing under Top Toole when storming out of his office came Mr.
Stergiou livid and grabbed the baton from Top Toole. He then went to each
section and hummed and told us how it was to be performed. Then he put us
through it several times, with marked improvement, then gave us hell in general
and stormed back into his office which had that window through which he would
watch us and we him. There was a very strained silence and up jumps Ron George
and he marches over to Mr. Stergiou's shut office door and throws it up, walks
in, puts his hands on Mr. Stergiou's desk and said, “Now Chris!” I didn't hear
the rest as I didn't want to be a witness to the explosion. But I watched and
the next thing out of the officer comes Ron George and Mr. Stergiou with his arm
around Ron's shoulder and they were both laughing! To the day I die I'll never
understand how that happened as I was sure that Ron had just committed suicide
but came out smelling like a rose.
Jon Rogers got out at the end of his enlistment and returned home to live with
his mother in Pennsylvania. One day a little girl was in the street and a
speeding car coming towards her. Ron jumped out and threw the little girl to
safety but was struck and killed by the car. The D&B had a major commitment
and could not attend the funeral. Mr. Stergiou called me in and asked me to
attend the funeral representing the D&B. I was a Sergeant and I asked if I
could take Cpl Gordon “Chief” Oldshield along and he said OK. I drove my
Studabaker with Gordy up with us in our dress greens. We spoke to the family
on behalf of the D&B and then Joh's mother asked us to fold the flag. So Gordy
and I went into the back of the funeral home and practiced how we were going to
do it with just the two of us. It was raining steadily and the red
Pennsylvania clay was slippery as all get out. The American Legion was the
firing party and a high school band student the bugler. Everything went like
clockwork and after Gordy handed me the folded flag and I did the final squaring
away of it I did an about face and marched over to Jon's Mother and knelt down.
As I did this I heard a funny sound and saw a look of horror on the faces of the
funeral goers. I quickly checked and my fly was secured so I presented the
Flag to Jon's mother with the traditional words. I rose up, saluted, did an
about face and immediately noticed that Cpl Oldshield was not in my line of
sight. Then I heard a stage whisper coming from the grave, “DB! DB!” I
looked down and there under the suspended casket was Cpl Oldshield covered in
red clay. I marched as smartly as I could to the head of the grave and with
the assistance of the funeral director and his assistant we managed to pull Cpl
Oldshield up out of that grave, complete with his cover. Now Cpl Oldshield was
the biggest indian I ever saw anywhere and it was a considerable feat of
strength to pull him up out of the grave. Of course as he clutched us we each
got large globes of Pennsylvania wet red clay smeared onto my uniform and their
suits. Once we got him up I had him form up on me and with all the dignity of
any 8th & I Marine parading for the President himself we marched slowly off to
my car, got in and fled the scene. I've always thought that Jon really got a
kick out of that incident.
One finally incident has always stuck in my mind. I had not been assigned to
the D&B very long but was a hash mark Cpl, Viet-Nam Vet and Cuban Crisis Vet and
one of the more senior Cpl's in the unit. We were on break drinking coffee on
the 3rd deck landing when an unknown 1stLt came up the ladder well very
obviously inspecting the spaces. We were military polite and he began to wipe
with a white glove the top of the various wall lockers on the deck landing.
Somebody had tipped off CWO3 Stergiou that a strange officer was in our area.
He came out through the double doors to our rehearsal hall and his office in
time to see the 1stLt whipping with his white glove the top of a wall locker on
the landing. CWO3 Stergiou demanded to know who the 1stLt was and he
identified himself as our new H&HS Company Commander, under which we reported
for administrative purposes. CWO3 Stergiou let it be known that these areas
were his responsibility and under his command in a highly agitated state while
the rest of us were attempting to become wallpaper. The 1stLt beat a graceful
retreat and CWO3 Stergiou beat a path to Col Carney's Office. We later
understood that Col Carney formally introduced 1stLt Christmas to CWO3 Stergiou
and boundary lines were worked out between them. Since 1stLt Christmas had
questioned the military appearance of our quarters when Mr. Stergiou returned he
assembled us all in the rehearsal hall and announced that H&HS had a new CO and
we were to treat him with the utmost respect. He then ordered rehearsal
cancelled and a Field Day Commenced. Now having served aboard ships and in
barracks for nearly 6 years I thought I had seen some Field Days, but they paled
by what this one became. It lasted for 3 full days. We got ladders and
climbed up to the 2nd deck concrete stones at the base of the windows and
brushed them pure white with steel bristled brushes. We stripped the tile
decks with razor blades and then cleared them before waxing them with numerous
coats of polish buffed to a near glass appearance, or like water several inches
deep. Finally we passed Mr. Stergiou's inspection and he invited 1stLt
Christmas to come and inspect for himself. I don't think 1stLt Christmas ever
forgot his first meeting with Mr. Stergiou and the resulting field days and they
became great friends and 1stLt Christmas became one of our most favorite
officers ever during my time at the D&B.
During the friday night parades “Parade Atmosphere” was set around 1700 hrs. on
Friday nights. Now there was no air conditioning in the squad bays just fans.
We had to close all the windows, lower the blinds with the bottom edge pointed
inboard and attempt to stay cool until time to get in uniform. Most of us took
cold showers, powdered our selves down with heavy doses of Talcum powder and
then laid down on a towel on our racks. We put semi chrome on all our buttons
and brass and just before getting into uniform we whipped it off. Then one
stood on a foot locker while another Marine held his old kaki like white
starched trousers and forced his stocking foot down through a leg breaking the
starch. Then this was repeated with the other leg. Next a buddy wrapped a
corset around the outside of our T shirt to give our backs extra support and we
hooked up our suspenders. Then another Marine tied out shoes. Then we did
the same thing for our buddy. Well after the Pass in Review a good many of the
buglers were able to slip off at the north end of the parade deck into the
bushes then make our way up to the rehearsal hall in the dark, very quietly,
store our instruments and then sneak down through the 2nd deck of the barracks
to our two squad bars at the far south end of barracks row. One evening during
a very silent part of the parade Sgt Rip Carson, a french horn bugler, noticed
that a blind in the H&HS Co Rec/pool room was amiss and not in proper alignment.
This was directly at the center of the barracks. So rip carefully climbed up
onto one of the wooden radiator covers and stretched up to correct the blind
alignment when it loudly came crashing down. There stood Sgt Rip Carson in his
T Shirt and Skivvies standing spread eagled gazing directly at the crown. We
nearly lost it we were laughing so hard and running. We managed to get changed
into our civvies and escape via the back entrance to the basement work shops and
went to the Catholic Church dance at St. Xavier's over the bridge in Patuxent.
Of course first thing monday morning Sgt Carson was standing at attention in
front of Mr. Stergiou's desk with the Barracks XO present attempting to explain
what had happened. The XO thought it was a riot and it had been an honest
attempt by a good NCO to correct a problem so Rip lived to serve another day.
Just some memories of great times in the D&B at the Barracks
Semper Fi, David "DB" Wright, D & B Corps, 1965-74, Las Vegas, NV
5-28-14 ... HEY GUYS,
I read with interest Pete McCusker's memory of that North Driveway Arrival Detail. It brought to mind another at the same location during LBJ's term in office. He was receiving the formal credential of a new Ambassador from some country and it was a joint service detail ran by the Military District of DC. The drill was we usually lined up 45 minutes to an hour before arrival and waited. The new Ambassador's car would arrive and he would go into the White House for tea or coffee, present his credentials to the President and depart. Usually 30 minutes maximum!
This arrival was in the dead of winter time and it had snowed heavily the night before so we all put our thermal underwear on under our dress uniforms. Of course the uniform of the day was Dress Blues for Marines with the exception of the Drum & Bugle Corps was our Dress Red's and all with our new Dress Blue Overcoats and white belts. It was sleeting with occasional light rain and cold as it could get with winds blowing. Not long after assuming our assigned places (the D&B was to the east side of the main entrance to play a fanfare for arrival and departure) when one of the many Army Military District of DC Officers came by and said more color was needed with everyone in overcoats which were mostly various shades of blue. He whirled around and marched over to the Drum Major and ordered him to have the D&B remove their overcoats so our dress red blouses could be more easily seen! The Drum Major ordered us to fall our, take off our overcoats and stack them behind some large shrubs adjacent to the White House and transfer our dress white belts to our Dress Red Blouses. We fell back in without overcoats and waited about another 45 minutes before the arrival, shivering from the cold as the Marine, Army, Navy & USAF riflemen lining the driveway at Parade Rest were enjoying watching us freezing our butts off.
Then the Ambassador arrived and LBJ and Lady Bird met the Ambassador and his wife as they got out of their car at the North White House steps and with his arm around his shoulder loudly announced something to the affect of, “You'al simply must stay and have lunch with us!” Every Marine, Soldier, Sailor and Airmen within hearing range cringed! We all returned to Parade Rest and the Ambassador and his wife were treated to a very warm and enjoyable long lunch with LBJ and Lady Bird while we continued to freeze our butts off out in the elements, but refusing to show it to anyone else! After well over an hour the Ambassador and his wife departed with due honors and LBJ and Lady Bird went back inside the White House and we all marched off. Of course the D&B had to retrieve our overcoats before we marched off. The ride back to the Barracks was even worst as the city buss heaters were not working on our busses. But one of the Barrack's Officers on the detail had called ahead to the Barracks and had given a head's up about what had happened. The Barrack's CO (I believe it may have been Col Feagan) ordered both Bldg. 58 and the Barracks Mess Hall to lay on hot soup and as soon as we came through the gate into the Barracks we were ordered to the Mess Hall for hot soup! I know that to a man every Marine who was on that detail loved the Colonel even more that day because he not only ordered that to happen but he and the SgtMaj were at the gate to greet and hustle us into the Mess Hall!
I still remember the leadership lessons I learned that day about how to take care of your troops and how not to!
The coldest detail that I ever stood was when the Drum & Bugle Corps went to Minneapolis for the Winter Carnival (I believe this would have been in late 65 or early 66). We were to fly in, march the parade, play a concert afterwards and fly back to DC. So we only took our Dress Red's with Overcoats (which were still green then), our instruments and travelled in Dress Greens. MSgt Toole opened a bus window when we arrived at the assembly point of the parade and held a bugle out it operating it's valve until it froze while timing the time it tool to freeze. It was around 10 seconds. The cold point was -45 degrees with a brisk wind blowing across the parade route off a lake to our left side as we marched. One of the parade marshal's came over to the young Barracks Officer who had been sent along as the detail OIC and offered ear muffs for us to wear. To the day I'll die I'll never forget his reply! “Marine's don't wear ear muffs!”
Off the parade stepped, which was several miles in length ending up at a huge auditorium on the lake front. Of course we couldn't play because the bugle vales were frozen so we marched along to the beat of the drums, exhaling huge clouds of frosty breath into the air. At about the mid point of the parade I began to notice that the Marine in front of me in my file had a blister beginning to form on his left ear. As we marched it became larger and larger and all the while I was chuckling to myself about the poor guy's unknown problem. Of course what I didn't stop to realize was the Marine behind me was doing the same thing while looking at my left ear. It was 2nd degree frostbite! We ended up with 28 cases of 2nd degree frostbite of the left ear and 3 of 3rd degree frostbite of the left ear. Actually the ear didn't bother me but where I held the bugle with my black leather gloves (we were allowed to wear our winter dress black leather gloves instead of the white gauntlets we usually wore because of the cold) my hand was in extremely intense pain as the wind was blowing up into the bugle as well as the air outside.
When we arrived at the auditorium we were immediately taken into an aide station. My glove had actually frozen to the bugle so I had to slide my hand, painfully, out of it and allow it to defrost while they attended to my ear with vaseline. It still hadn't bothered me yet and I was surprised to learn it had been frozen. We marched out to play our concert in the auditorium without our overcoats to show more color and formed up. At that point somebody decided it would be a great thing to recreate the scene from the movie “White Christmas” at the end where they opened up the doors behind the stage to see the snow falling outside while they sang. Yep!!!! They opened up the huge doors behind us (probably 4 feet high) which opened up that entire end of the auditorium so the people inside could see the frozen lake behind us while the wind howled in freezing out butts off.
We got back to the Naval Air Station to be told we couldn't fly out that night and would be staying over in a barracks the opened up for us. We were seen and treated by Naval Corpsmen and ordered to drink plenty of alcohol that night! It was a two story barracks and my buddy Pat Slater and I bunked in a small room on the 2nd deck. Not long after getting into the barracks we heard a blast and ran outside. A 2” fire line at the end of the 2nd deck outside the barracks had burst and formed a column of frozen water down to the ground it was so damn cold. The Club was across the street so as soon as it opened we invaded it and followed the Corpsman's orders! The next morning I awoke and observed a heavy coat of frost on the inside of the window from the steam heat and our breathing while we slept. I then looked down from the top rack to wake up my buddy Pat and observed him curled up in a woman's fur coat snug as a bug and sound asleep! How I wish I had had a cell phone to take a picture of that sight back then. We returned the coat to the club (handing it inside and running), had breakfast and took off in the USMCR C-119 (Flying Boxcar, or as it was more popularly called in the Corps a “Shuttering Shitbox”) for DC.
Well we didn't make to DC because all airports there were closed as a result of a record blizzard! One of the SNCO's told me to jump when we hit the landing strip and see where we had landed. It looked like the north pole to me but it was Detroit (at least I think that's where it was as my memory was not real good from the medical aide I had taken the night before). Again we went to temporary barracks and spent another night following our medical directions/treatment and took off the next morning to again try to get into DC. Remember we are still in the same uniform we wore up and without shaving gear! I talked my way onto the flight deck of that old C-119 (or as the Corps and Navy designated it an R4Q) where a LtCol was the pilot. As we approached DC I heard the discussion between the towers at Andrews, Quantico, National and Dulles as he attempted to get landing permission which was denied. So the LtCol declared he had a flight emergency problem with an engine and we landed at Dulles. Back then they had those huge mobile lounges which picked up passengers and certainly had never been designed to pick up from military planes. We piled up and onto one with all our gear. Our greens looked like we had been in them for several weeks and we had been instructed to tie our dress green scarves over our heads to protect our ears from the cold. Also most of us had our left ears heavily bandaged. We looked like we had been with the Washington at Valley Forge! As we boarded I noted there were several Texas Oil men in their high dollar silk suits, 10 gallon white hats and high heeled boots looking at us in obvious amazement as we thew our stuff down and plopped down into seats in an obviously unhappy camper mode! At the airport main terminal we set up “camp” in the main area as we waited for busses to be sent to pick us up. At one point a little old lady asked Cpl Jerry Gaskins if we had all been wounded in Viet-Nam! With a straight face Jerry looked at her and replied, “Yes Mam! We were all hit by a left handed grenade thrown by a left handed Viet-Cong!” She rapidly rejoined her group informing them of our unusual wound!
OH YES! Before I forget about it the Minneapolis Newspaper the next day ran an article titled; “MARINES TO TOUGH FOR MUFFS!” about our injuries from the parade! I still have it and will have to shift through and see if I can find it again.
City Busses appeared and we boarded and arrived back at the Barracks where we were met in the Mess Hall by Col Carney who was obviously very convened about our appearance. The next morning we were bussed to Bethesda Naval Hospital with the Barracks SgtMaj accompanying us along with one of the Senior Officers of the Barracks. We were each examined by a Naval Doctor and then we were all placed on 30 days restriction to Barracks, or in the case of the married guys 30 days confinement at their homes! Damn! I get my ear froze and now I'm sentenced to confinement to Barracks, no duty for 30 days? And to boot, two weeks later we were supposed to go to Tamp Bay for their big Pirate Festival, which of course only the Drill Team and Color Guard got to do to.
As a result of this when the D&B was returned to duty the Bethesda Medical Staff directed that anytime it was near freezing we were to wear ear protection. Barracks Supply acquired white ski headbands which we wore for the rest of that year anytime it was near feeling and I don't have a picture of us taken wearing those white ski headbands performing. I know that my left ear today has a very large section of the upper proportion that is rock hard with a large lump in it as a result of that experience and even today at times it can remind me when it is exposed under certain cold conditions!
Another quick story! In the spring of 1966 we went for our annual appearance at the Festival de Ole San Antonio down in Texas. Then we went on to 29 Palms to appear at a major on base Pass in Review. The then CG of 29 Palms had been on the Corps Uniform Board and was instrumental in CWO Stergiou's (Director of the D&B) gaining the Dress Red Blouses, shoulder cord (scarlet & gold) and white leather gauntlets as our dress uniform. He had invited school kids from miles around to be bussed into to see us in our Dress Reds! When we took off from San Antonio most of the D&B flew ahead in a R5D (4 engined DC-6, Prop engined of course). When we split up like this I was usually detailed to bring up the rear on the assumption that because I had served in the Airwing I could handle problems as they arose to get to where I needed to be. So I brought up the rear guard of about 3 LCpls & PFC's and myself and the bulk of the uniforms for the unit in an old R4D (twin engined C-47). Somewhere in Arizona the pilot a Reserve Colonel asked if we were hungry and I said Yes Sir! We landed at some small airport (a great advantage of that old airplane) and had a nice lunch at the Colonel's expense. When we arrived late I was immediately confronted by a young Barracks 1stLt who had been detailed to accompany the D&B on this west coast tour of events. He kept ordering me to get out of my greens and into my dress reds. I kept attempting to tell him that my uniforms had come with them, not with me. But finally, not listening to me, he gave me a direct order and with an “Aye Aye, Sir!” I stripped down to my skivvies and stood there. In the meantime Cpl Jerry Gaskins had stripped out of his dress greens and hunt them neatly up on a hanger on the rear of a buss while he climbed into his dress reds! When he turned around to stow his dress greens into his bag he saw the bus about a block away and departing the area at a high rate of speed with his dress greens on their hanger waving behind the bus!
The next time the 1stLt saw me he screamed at me for not getting into my dress reds and I heatedly advised him my dress reds were at the barracks ahead of me. So he sent me in a 6x6 to the barracks where I hastily got into my ice cream trousers slipped my arms into the sleeves of my dress red blouse and climbed back up into the rear bed of the 6x6 and off we tore with me finishing squaring my self away. For some reason the damn 6x6 driver in haste to get me to the rest of the D&B he drove right down the middle of the Parade Deck with the crowd to my left and the assembled 29 Palm's troops to my right under the observation of the CG of 29 Palms! The parade went off, late, but was a great success and at a reception afterwards the General held for everyone he approached me with Drum Major Belschner and complimented me on my spectacular arrival at the parade and then laughed, to my great relief. Though I still don't think the Drum Major was returned to a very calm mindset about it all! Oh and Cpl Gaskin's never saw that set of dress greens again!
Great Days serving with great Marines at all levels throughout the Barracks!
Semper Fidelis - David "DB" Wright, 8th & I, D & B Corps, 1965-1974, Vietnam veteran, Las Vegas, NV
I finally found it! This was from the Washington Post the day after we returned from the December 1965 trip to Minneapolis Winter Carnival parade. The temperature was -14 degrees. But the “Cold Point” was -45 degrees!!!!!
The Parade Safety Officials did approach the young Captain sent along as our OIC offering to provide ear muffs for us. He replied “MARINES DON'T WEAR EAR MUFFS!” So we simply marched along exhaling great clouds of vapor while our drummers drummed us the whole way in one of the courageous acts I ever witnessed any drummers ever perform before, or after that parade!
After a visit the First Aide Station in the auditorium for initial treatment we removed our over coats (after all we were inside) and formed up in the auditorium to play a concert. On the down beat of the first note the whole wall behind us was opened up, much like the ending scene in the movie “WHITE CHRISTMAS”! Once again the wind howled into us, this time from our back sides. Amazingly this time the valves of the bugles didn't freeze up!
We had 28 cases of frostbite to the left ear. The parade route had a body of water to our left side over which the winds was howling strongly into us. As we marched I watched the bugler in front of me have a blister form on his left ear that turned brown and very nasty. Being Marines with our famous sense of humor I was chuckling to myself. Of course the Bugler behind me was doing the same watching my ear freeze with none of realizing it was happening to us! We had 25 cases of 2nd Degree Frostbite and three 3rd degree frostbite.
We were scheduled to fly in, do the parade and a concert, and then fly back to DC the same day. We were taken straight to the base medical facility and our ears were daubed with a grease like stuff and the Corpsmen and Doctor advised us to take in plenty of alcohol!!! An old WWII Barracks was opened up and we settled into 2 man rooms. I, as usual, bunked with my best buddy and fellow senior Corporal, Pat Slater. After chow we were rushed out of the Barrack by the Fire Department from a fire alarm. It turned out a 4” fireman on the 2nd deck outside had broken from the cold. The stream of water down to the ground froze solid!!!
In accordance with our “medical orders” to take in large amounts of alcohol we hit the Chief's Club across the street. I recall little after than until the next morning when I woke up. The inside of our window had nearly an inch thick coating of frost on it. I leaned over from my top rack to get Pat to look and saw him snoring like a diesel truck on a steep hill with a full load wrapped up in a woman's, very expensive, fur coat! After chow he snuck it back into the club and we board the old C-119 “Shuttering Sh*t Box” and took off for DC. After a few hours in the air we began to let down to land. Several of us had noted the plane turning around at one point so one of the SNCO's said, “DB! Jump up and see where we're landing?” I stood on the sling seats and looked out a porthole. I swear to God it looked as if we were landing at the North Pole! Turned out to be at a military base in Ohio. DC was shut down due to a historic massive snow storm. We spent another night there, following additional Corpsman orders to take in alcohol! Next morning we boarded the C-119 again and took off. I managed to talk my way to a jump seat in the cockpit. The Pilot was an older LtCol USMCR who was a veteran of WWII and Korea. As we approached DC all the military air fields refused permission to land as they were closed. The only air field open, and it was shutting, except for emergency's, was Dulles. A lengthy discussion began between the Co-Pilot a Major and the Crew Chief a MGySgt about how much the landing fees would be if they landed at Dulles! Finally the LtCol halted the discussion and over the radio “Declared a Engine Malfunction Light Emergency!” Dulles gave him clearance to land. After landing we were met by a “Follow Me” truck and led to a parking pad way out next to a bit private jet. One of Dulles' Mobile Lounges left the private jet and picked us up. Before we deplaned I made sure that Drum Major Belschner and MSgt “Red” Toole knew about what the LtCol had done for us to get us home! They thanked him and later on he got a very nice letter from our Director CWO-2 Chris Stergiou, the Barrack CO Col Carney and one from CMC himself!
There were between 5 and 10 Texas Oilmen in the Mobile Lounge in $1,000+ silk suits, bolo ties, big belt buckles, very high dollar boots and 10 gal Stetson hats. I was struck at how much we looked like the veterans of Valley Forge, our wool green overcoat collar pulled up high, bandaged left ears and our green neck scarfs wrapped over our head and ears with our Barracks Covers sitting atop that and not having shaved for 3 days and smelling like a heard of goats! Oh, yes and very, very unhappy campers!
We had to wait around an hour before buses, Col Carney and SgtMaj Daily arrived. Of course we were quit a sight I suppose with our gear piled in a stack and us sitting, standing and lying around! At one point a little old lady approached Cpl Gerry Gaskins (Baritone Bugler) and asked him if we had “just returned from Viet-Nam and had been wounded?” With a dead serious look Gerry and solemn voice, Gerry said, “YES MAM!” She then asked “how we had all been wounded in the same ear?” Again Gerry replied, “WE WERE ALL WOUNDED WHEN A LEFT HANDED GRENADE THROWN BY A LEFT HANDED VIET-CONG EXPLODED AMONGST US, MAM!” The poor thing quickly rejoined her group of fellow sweet old ladies and whisper to them about how we had been wounded! I've never received such loving and caring looks in my life as we were getting from those sweet little ladies as they left to board their airplane! As soon as they were out of sight we all nearly had hernia's from laughing so hard!
The entire D&B was restricted to quarters for 30 days! Great for the married guys and other brown baggers as they went home. Of course they “had” to drive their wives to movies and shopping while we Barracks Rats were confined to the Barracks! Any time the temperature got any near the low 30's, or our ears “twinned” from cooler temperature, we wore our officially issued woolen white ski bands over our ears in our dress uniforms!
Anyway below is the long promised newspaper article! Semper Fidelis, DB Wright
I just sent this to our Brother Jim Bathurst in response to a conversation we
were having about the lack of LPM Facing movements and About Facing movements by
the current Drill Team! He confirmed to me that I had not lost it and we
really did so them the regulation way back in the day in the tallest grass,
rodeo areas and other horrible marching conditions!
Anyway I thought you might get a kick out of this and even remember some it
yourselves! I do remember during that horrible 3 days of Field Day that most
of the SNCO's and the brown bagging NCO's got to go home and leave us Barracks
Rats to it!
I remember the parade season rehearsals of late winter of 65 before spring.
There were a few of us new to the D&B and had never before marched the British
Slow March, or as we called it the “Cake Walk”. It was the number we did
marching down to join the Band at the beginning of the parade where we slid our
feet through the grass with a hesitation in each step at a very slow tempo to
the British Tunes of “Proud Pageant and Globe and Laurel (for the Royal
Marines)”. I always thought it looked beautiful from the audience and
especially at the Barracks on the green grass and under lights. Well Mr.
Stergiou happened to look out the window of his office on the 3rd deck behind
the main flag pole. Out onto the parade deck he came storming screaming to
“STOP! STOP - STOP - STOP!” Then he lit into us that this was the sloppiest
damn execution of the Slow March he had ever witnessed and took over the drill
himself from the Drum Major and Top Toole. First he demonstrated to us while
holding a bugle up as if playing making sure we took note of the quick snap of
the foot forward after the pause. Then he did it while actually playing the
music on the bugle. As a new guy to the unit I was really amazed at his
instruction by example which I had never before seen any Band Officer do. The
Drum Major (Belschner) and Top Toole both stood there like statues. Then Mr.
Stergiou ordered us to do the march to a single drum beating out the tempo while
with our horns at our sides all the way from one end of the parade deck and then
back. Then he had us do it again holding our horns up as if playing. All the
while he, the Drum Major and Top Toole were moving amongst us and alongside of
us pointing out our mistakes. Of course being one of the senior Cpl's and new
to the unit he personally descended on me. You see I am pretty bow legged as a
result of having Ricketts when a kid, so the balancing was difficult for me.
He was not a happy camper with my execution and finally he asked if I had a
problem in a low voice and I whispered back about being bow legged. So he very
quietly told me to not to try to place one foot directly in front of the other
until I got that down and then to begin to move them to one in front of the
other and went on his way. It worked for me and after a few parades I was as
sharp as the rest! Mr. Stergiou was legendary for his temper and personally
taking over, but in all his display of temper there was ALWAYS teaching how to
do it correctly in a simply manner that made everyone remember it for the rest
of their lives. And he didn't quit his teaching until he was satisfied with
It even extended to all facets of our appearance and performance. He always
took personal responsibility for each and ever one of us. We once had a Field
Day while I was still a Cpl living in the barracks and Police NCO. It was in
preparation for the Bks CO's pre IG Inspection. I made the troops do the best
damn job I had ever demanded. Mr. Stergiou arrived to inspect it and told me
in no uncertain terms it was unacceptable! Do it again. I asked several of
the SNCO's what else I could do and they gave me a few hints. I added them and
redid everything and the next day same reaction from Mr. Stergiou. I was
highly agitated at my apparent failure, especially to an officer I had come to
hold in the highest esteem! Top Toole mentioned that I might consider getting
ladders and wire brushes and scrub the white concrete windowsills on the outside
and the white concrete curved section above them. So I turned every one to on
that. I personally hand Pledged the deck after it had been machine buffed.
Mr. Stergiou came in looked around, and then came that big smile of his and he
said now I want it to look like this for the IG Inspection. Col Carney loved
it and said it was the best appearing squad bay in the whole Barracks.
When IG Inspection came I had one of the troops how was artistic print up a
white board that I hung above the hatchway into our Squad Bay. It said “ALL
WHO ENTER - ENTER IN SOCKS ONLY!” I was standing tall and when the IG (the
General himself) and his team along with Col Carney and CWO Stergiou arrived one
of the IG's young Lt's started to storm into the Squad Bay. The IG General
halted him and pointed to the sign and said if these Marines have that level of
respect for their Squad Bay then we will as well and began to remove his shows.
Of course everyone else did. I had really made heavy use of pledge on the
decks, racks, foot lockers and wall lockers, as well as anything else I could
find to Pledge. Once the shoes were off the young IG Lieutenant charged into
the Squad Bay like a charging bull and immediately he was airborne with his feet
towards the overhead (ceiling for you landlubbers) and head downward until he
came crashing down on his shoulders and back. I immediately rushed over to
assisted the dizzy your Lt to his feet. When I looked back at the hatchway
(doorway) I saw the IG General craning his neck all around and nodding his head.
He then said they would move on! In short order I was in front of CWO Stergiou
in my dress greens and together we marched down to Col Carney's Office. Col
Carney had us both sit down and we had coffee while I was waiting for the
thunder bolt that would rip off my stripes. Then Col Carney, in that fatherly
way of his, asked me what I had put on the decks. I told him I had purchased a
case of Pledge and used it all on everything. He chuckled and smiled and said,
“Cpl that was the shiniest deck I have ever seen in my entire career!” But
don't use Pledge on the deck anymore as it really does make it slippery!” Of
course I immediately sounded off a strong “AYE, AYE SIR!” He went on to say
from that point on the IG General's attitude turned from by the book to smiling
and telling Col Carney stories about other inspections. He also said that our
Squad Bay being one of the first inspected had set a tone that the IG General
was pleased with and the Barracks had breezed through with flying colors.
That was the same IG Inspection in which some enterprising SNCO had managed to
get a copy of the IG's written test for the Sgt's and below. So for a couple
of months we spent time in the band hall in the afternoons going over the test
and it's answers. A whole lot of us got to know the test so well we could
shout out and answer and someone else could shout out the question. The day of
the test came in the Band Hall for the IG. We got a stern lecture about the
high failure rate Corps wide of this test and we were take the full 2hours
allotted for the test to make sure of our answers. I glanced through the test
quickly once it started and saw it was the exact test we had been practicing so
I simply went through the answer lines and marked them without evening looking
at the questions. In about 13 or 14 minutes I stood up and marched up to the
front table and handed it to the Gunny. He looked at me an asked if I was
quitting and I said, “No Gunny! I'm finished and waiting for it to be graded!”
He and the Major proctor who had really given us the big build up talk prior to
the test were stunned. Then the Major ordered the Gunny to grade it himself
while the Major began to chew quietly on my butt for not trying and so forth.
Finally, the Gunny handed him the test without a word and the Major glanced down
at it while still chewing on my and said in amazement, “A 99”! I blurted out
what question did I miss and they said the number and I said the correct answer
is such and such, which it was! By this time there was a line forming to turn
in their papers and have them graded. The Barracks passed that written test
with flying colors and with the highest passing rate in the entire Corps that
year. Of course a huge investigation was launched but they were never able to
gather enough evidence to prove we had had a copy of the test, just that we had
held a lot of pre test training!
I did get my butt chewed royally by the H&S Co CO for being such a smart ass and
finishing it so quickly, but we was also smiling at me when he delivered it and
CWO Stergiou loved it as most of his NCO's were at the front of the line for
finishing the test!
That also was the year that the Barracks FAILED the Manual of Arms and Marching
IG tests. Seemed they didn't like the Slide and Glide marching and manual of
arms. It also was the last year we failed that area of the test!
Your Ole Buds and Brother
David "DB" Wright, 8th & I, D & B Corps and U.S. Marine Band, 1965-74, Vietnam veteran, Las Vegas, NV
12-28-14 ... MEMORIES OF IWO JIMA AND THE DRUM & BUGLE CORPS AT 8TH & I ... MID-60'S/EARLY 70'S
One of the things I have often pondered about being a father was an event that happened during Iwo Jima. Admiral ”Mick” Carney (I believe he was a VAdm but may have still been only a RAdm at the time) was Chief of Staff, as he had been for some time, to Admiral “Bull” Halsey. As the they stood watching the assault up Mt. Suribachi by the 28th Marines from the flag bridge of the USS Missouri Admiral Carney knew his son, a young infantry Lieutenant would be amongst those Marines fighting up that mountain. He was and he was wounded as well as awarded the Bronze Star with “V” for Valor because of his at the front of his troops leadership. I, still to this day, often think and wonder at what must have been going through the father's mind knowing how horrific this battle had already become and that as he stood there on that great battleship, and all the responsibility he bore himself in the battle, having to worry about his son. Incident similar to this have often occurred throughout our nation's history but they still put me in awe, being a father myself. I never knew this until I was stationed at the Barracks in 65 and met Col Carney. All of us who ever served under the Colonel, or met him, know he was a true gentleman of the old school. He lead by example and quietly. I often saw him happy and praising others but only recall seeing at the most disappointed or displeased at something that was wrong. I learned that his father was coming to visit and had read the Official USMC Bio on the Colonel. Someone told me that his father had been CNO after the War. So I checked out a book from the local library and read about his career and it was then that I put together the fact that he had been there at Iwo and would have known and watched the assault in which his son was participating in and it instantly hit me as to wondering at what would have been going through his mind.
The old Admiral often visited the Barracks staying with his son and always turning out for Morning Colors standing ram rod straight with his hand over his heart as Colors were sounded. I remember one Morning Colors when the Col and his father (the Col in dress greens and his father in suit, tie, overcoat and homburg hat) standing together in front of their quarters opposite Center Walk throughout the entire ceremony. As I watched my mind went back to Iwo Jima and their involvement. Every time I saw them, or his father, I always thought back to that horrific battle, their part in it and all the lives and wounded we suffered to finally conquer that small island with out flag waving over Mt. Suribachi. It has been immortalized in our statue at Arlington over looking DC, the Lincoln Memorial, the Korean Monument, the Viet-Nam Wall, (now) the WWII Monument, the Reflecting Pool, the Washington Monument, the Mall and our Capitol Building!
Throughout my time in our Corps I served with many veterans of WWII, Korea and of course Viet-Nam along with old China Marines and even a few who had served in Central America, and even POW's from WWII & Korea. They were all professionals in the highest sense of the word. To me they will always be the “Old Corps”, just as today's Marines probably consider us as the “Old Corps!”
In the Drum and Bugle Corps we served under Chief Warrant Officer Chris Stergiou, a fiery Greek who had been a SNCO before becoming a Warrant Officer. He was boxing champion in WesPac at one point in one of the lighter weights and always looked squared away throughout his career. He was a hard taskmaster and demanded our best at all times in everything that we did. He could explode in a nano second and it was always spectacular when he did! I recall one day during a rehearsal break a group of the NCO's were kidding about “The Ole Corps”. It was the spark that lit him off that day as he came out to get a cup of coffee. He became highly incensed at our discussing “The Old Corps” and lit into us telling us, “The Old Corps! You want to know about The Old Corps? I'll tell you about The Old Corps as I was a young puppy in it. Their creases were summer time creases (you know here and there and everywhere), they brass unsigned, their boondockers looked as if they had never seen shoe polish and their military bearing was shitty! So don't hold up The Old Corps to me! We never again mentioned anything to do with “The Old Corps” around him again. I also recall once on some trip when some Marine, who it turned out had been drafted in Korea and served 24 months, was bragging about being “Old Corps”. Mr. Stergiou took it awhile and then exploded telling the braggart that he had also been in Korea, a volunteer and he had staid in the Corps so don't talk to me about the Corps because you didn't stay in! Don't get the wrong picture he had the utmost respect for old Marines and their service but he couldn't stand a braggart and that fool had been one. You would be hard pressed to find any Marine who ever served under Mr. Stergiou who didn't revere him as a Marine, a Leader and a man. He set extremely high standards in appearance, quarters, physical fitness, drill and everything else a Marine did back then. But he was the true “Father” of the United State Marine Corps, “The Commandant's Own” that exists today. He was hand selected by CMC from the FMF to come to the Barracks as a SNCO and “square away” the D&B at that time. He was given a free hand to bring in those Marines he needed and he did starting with Drum Major Eugene Belschner and MSgt “Red” Toole as Bandmaster. In short order he brought in lots of other Field Musics from throughout the Corps returning those who had been in the D&B he had been tasked to square away back to the Corps! He quickly raised the appearance of the unit up to the Barracks standard and above, introduced new music and arrangements and introduced new musical drill shows. In short order the D&B began to travel around to parades, fairs and other events, even even appearing on TV shows. He was instrumental in putting together the Battle Color of the Corps with the Color Guard of the Corps and Silent Drill Team. With the Silent Drill Team in period uniforms he introduced a musical program with period music as each Marine appeared with a flag and wearing a uniform of that era which we performed together at local schools. He got the “Shoulder Cord” worn by all members of the D&B authorized by CMC. We all carried a special card citing the MC Order number and short quote of it which authorized our wearing of it to show all who challenged us over it, and we were challenged back then by Marines who had never before seen it. He got the authorization to wear the red dress blouses with white leather gauntlets we wore similar to that of the Band but without all the braid. He professionalized the D&B and got CMC's blessing to add to our title “The Commandant's Own” which we proudly carried on our painted bass drum heads. All those drum heads were painted via a series of silk screens by Sgt Silvestrini for many years while I was there. There were no non performers in the D&B, though many of us did other volunteer duties in our spare time. I was the Unit Clerk for the D&B besides Section Leader of the 3rd Soprano Bugle Section. Also prior to getting married I was the unit Police Sergeant. GySgt “Hook" Masasak (spelling is wrong) was the instrument repair man assisted by Sgt Silvestrini who did the drums. But we all turned out for all performances in our musical rolls.
Iwo Jima is a word that everyone instantly connects with the statue in DC to day. Say Marine, and they think of the best warriors in all our military, in dress blues, who are the sharpest drilling and appearing members of all our Armed Forces! On the latter they are right! But sadly on the former they fail to pause and realize what that Iwo Jima statue really is all about. The huge loss of life our Marines paid to conquer it as well as all those wounded or maimed for life. It also speaks of the fanatical and fierce Japanese soldiers who defended it to the last man and who we owe respect. And to me a father in the battle watching his son in the battle from afar!
David "DB" Wright, Drum & Bugle Corps and Band, 1965-1974, Vietnam veteran, Las Vegas, NV
2-18-15 ... "DB" WRIGHT'S (1965-74) EXPERIENCE WITH TRAVEL ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE DRUM & BUGLE CORPS, "THE COMMANDANT'S OWN"
I thought you'd get a kick out of my remembrance of my experiences as NCOIC of
the Tail End Charley Contingent of the D&B in my early days with the unit.
Besides being a section leader and bugler I was also the volunteer Clerk of the
unit preparing all the flight manifests for our trips.
We always thought we had died and gone to heaven when we got fly in a C-130 over
the normal stuff we flew in! During my time in the unit we flew in C-47's,
C-54's, C-119's, Convairs, Strato Cruisers, Globmasters, C-130s, Helicopters
(from DC to NYC & Back for the 65 World's Fair) C-141 Star lifter and probably a
few others I have forgotten. Our best one was an American Airlines 707 charted
by the American Medical Society to fly us from a gig in Philadelphia, Pa to
their Convention in Chicago to make sure we would make it there in time!
Since I had been in the Air Wing, and was one of the most senior Corporals in
the unit, Mr. Stergiou, Top Toole and the Drum Major (Belschner) would always
detail me to take any “overflow” of passengers or instruments/baggage and figure
out a way to get to where they were going ahead of me. Yep! They'd fly off
and leave me with a bunch of stuff and anywhere from 4 to 6 unit members junior
to me. I got to be known very well at Flight Operations at Andrews AFB and
cultivated a lot of contacts quickly, which my former experience in the Air Wing
did help a lot. I remember once we were going to San Antonio and I ended up
with 4 troops and most of the baggage and instruments. I got us a flight in a
Marine C-54 down to Cherry Point, NC. Then I got us onto a Navy C47 to
Meridian, Mississippi. From there I caught another C54 up to St. Louis and
found I couldn't make a connection there so took it to Denver, Colorado. From
there we were stranded until I called the Col commanding the local USMCR
Squadron of C-119's. He made arrangements and came out and personally flew us
to Dallas where he hooked us up with another USMCR Squadron Commander who flew
us in a C-47 down to San Antonio getting in just in time to suit up and perform!
I managed to get a nice letter sent to both of those USMCR Colonel's for
personally coming in and flying us to make our mission, from Mr. Stergiou and
Colonel Carney with CC's to CMC. I later learned CMC also sent along a nice
letter to them. Because I had been in the Wing I was very familiar with the
regularly scheduled Marine and Navy Logistical flights between certain key bases
that flew twice weekly (one each way during the week) and had often hopped rides
on them when in the Air Wing to go home for a weekend. Being in “The
Commandant's Own” and we always travelled in either Tropicals class A's or
Green's Class A's so I had my shoulder rope of the D&B, my ribbons, hash mark, a
set of Orders from 8th & I Endorsed by CMC's Office and I talked their talk
which some how I was always able to “BS” my way through and always made it by
the skin of my teeth.
On a west coast tour around fall of 65 or 66 was the first time I got left
behind with 4 of our members down in San Antonio with verbal orders to get them
to 29 Palm's MCB in California. At first I saw stunned then I put on my
thinking cap and started asking for flights. A very senior Marine Colonel
Aviator was sitting over in the corner working at his desk and heard me getting
a little loud. He walked out and said, “What's the problem Corporal?” I
explained it to him and turned around the the Aviation Officer of the Day and
ordered his C-47 rolled out and prepped for flight with sack lunches. We
loaded the stuff aboard and since it was my first time I took the stuff they
left behind. Turned out I had about half of the units Dress Red uniforms with
me and the CG of 29 Palms had been the “key” General Officer on the Uniform
Board who had pressed through the authorization of our wearing the Dress Red
Blouses and white gauntlets as well as the special should rope. So he had
invited in every student from about a 100 mile radius of the base to see us
perform on the parade deck and lead the pass in review of his entire command
with us leading it. We had the Color Guard and Silent Drill Team with us as
well and were to put on the Battle Color Ceremony prior to the parade with all
his troops in formation on the parade deck. Around noon time the Col called
me up to the flight deck and asked me if I hated the horse cock (baloney sliced
about a 1/2 thick) sandwiches in our sack lunches and I admitted I hated them.
So he did a sharp wing over and we landed at some small civilian air field and
he sprang for lunch for all of us. We took off again and we began to get
frantic radio calls from 29 Palms. The old Colonel took them in stride and
cracked up some more speed. As soon as the plane stopped landing and the crew
chief opened up the rear door troops rushed aboard and began to frantically
unload. I thanked the Colonel and debarked and reported to the 2ndLt who was
the detail commander and he screamed at me to get into my dress reds
immediately. Now my dress uniform had went ahead on the other plane and I
attempted to explain this to him. All around D&B'ers were stripping out of
their dress greens into dress reds. I kept trying to explain to the1stLt and
finally he shouted out me to get the hell out of my dress greens and quit back
talking! So I stripped down to my skivvies and stood their holding my uniform
over my arm. One of the bass section Cpl's, Jerry Gaskin, was being modest
and was changing behind a USMC Bus and had just hung his dress green blouse on
the rear of it on its hanger. He turned around to put on his dress white
trousers and off went the bus and he never saw that blouse again! Finally the
Drum Major came over and asked me why I wasn't getting into uniform and I was
really pissed by then so I told him! He went over and “straightened out” the
1stLt and I was given a 6x6 2 1/2 ton truck to take me to the barracks where we
were to stay and where my uniforms were. He told me to dress in the back of
the 6x6 truck on the way (it had to canvass top and was open). So there I am
trying not to fall as the truck raced to the parade field. I had just gotten
my dress white trousers on, my shoes and socks and had my dress red blouse on
but not buttoned up and my white belt around my neck and I had put my white
dress cover on the deck of the truck so it wouldn't blow away. In this
condition, zipping up my dress white trousers the driver turns onto the parade
deck and races right down the middle of it with the crown to my left laughing at
the scene and the troops to my right at Parade Rest trying not to loose it!
Our performance went off without a hitch and since the crowd had loved it the
MajGen of the base at a special reception afterward that we all attended had me
brought before him. I just knew I was going to get blasted for my disgraceful
entrance and I think Drum Major Belschner and Top Toole, who went with me, were
prepared for the same thing. Damned if he didn't congratulate me for my “get
it done” attitude and what a great NCO I was to have pulled it off with such
Another time we were up around Scranton, Pa and did a Battle Color Ceremony and
one of the C-47's which had flown us up blew an engine on landing. So late at
night I was left with about 15 Marines at the airport and told to take care of
it. The airport was damn near deserted with only a skeleton crew so I got on
the phone. The Commandant's Pilot a LtCol had given me his card once and told
me if I ever got stranded to give him a call. So after striking out all over
the place I called him about 2300 hrs.. I didn't get him but left a message at
his noted “emergency number” on the card. About 5 minutes later he called and
I explained my problem. He said no problem, I'll crank up CMC's Convair (a
prop twin engined VIP equipped plane) and be up there ASAP! Have the Marines
ready as I'll only shut down on engine so you can load easily and get aboard
ASAP! It was about a hour to an hour and half flight so the troops sacked out.
I kept watch and sighted him even as he was calling in to land. He landed and
immediately taxied right up to us and I had everyone loading all assholes and
elbows and we were done quickly. I had thought his uniform looked funny as he
had waved out the window at me as he taxied up. I went up forward to the
flight deck after we got airborne and damned if he wasn't in a blue sports coat,
slacks, loafers, shirt and tie and there was a blonde #10 sitting in the
co-pilots seat. He explained he had been a the “O” Club at Andrews AFB when my
message was forwarded to him from the duty switch board at HQMC, dancing with
this beautiful young thing. His co-pilot was to drunk to fly so he came
himself with the young lady and a crew chief who was trusted. Of course I
never divulged that until many, many years later. In no time we were off and
in the air and I always held that pilot in the greatest respect after that and
he eventually got his flag as a general officer.
David "DB" Wright, Drum & Bugle Corps and Band, 1965-74, Vietnam veteran, Las Vegas, NV
3-14-15 ... 8TH & I ... DRUM & BUGLE CORPS ... MEMORIES OF DRUM MAJOR GENE BELSCHNER, 1947-51 & 1956-67, SEVERN, MD
On one occasion we were in NYC, staying at the Brooklyn Navy Yard to do a TV show, whose name I can't recall. Woody Allen was the star of the show and they had him in a Roman breast plate that was twice his size and he was kidding about it with all of us back stage. There was a very tall set of white steps that were about 15 feet wide and we were to come over the top of them from a platform (which we could barely all fit on) playing in our normal formation with Drum Major Belschner out front leading us. Mid way down we were to side step to each side of the steps far edges and continue down ending up in two files playing all the time. The TV show Choreographer kept trying to figure out how to do it and allow us to remain in step. After about 10 minutes, and several failed attempts, Drum Major Belschner had had enough and took over giving us orders we understood and we reformed up and did it perfectly the very next time to the amazement of the TV people. It took the “dancers (female and male)” over an hour to be able to do it like we did it and there were some really pissed off dancers over it. But that was the kind of Drum Major he was. Just tell him what you wanted and get the hell out of his way and it would come of perfect the first time.
On one of our many trips down into Texas we appeared on the Domingo Peenya (spelling probably wrong but that is how I would spell it) Morning TV Show. We were informed it was the largest watched morning TV show in Texas and was mostly Spanish speaking. We formed up on the stage and the curtain came up and here is the host dressed in an outfit like was in the movie “The Three Amigo's”, complete with the sombrero and it was a burnt orange color. We blasted into the tune “BIG COUNTRY” and then into “THE MARINE'S HYMN”. At the completion of them Domingo rushes over alongside Drum Major Belschner and speaking in that sort of old time movie “sing song” broken English he begins to ask the Drum Major questions. Then he spied the Drum Major's Miniature Medals at the top of his Baldric. He had already had the Drum Major explain the Battle Ribbons on the Baldric but now he wanted to know all about these “cute little medals”! It was all those of us in ranks could do to maintain our position of attention without busting out laughing it was all so damn funny. We could see the blood rushing up the Drum Major's neck he was so mad but he maintained in his always professional manner and explained each medal. Finally we marched off to "Semper Fi”. The minute we got aboard the bus the Drum Major vented like a pent up steam whistle! Of course that only made it funnier to all of us and we were rolling in the aisles of the buss in tears and laughing which only made the Drum Major madder and madder! It was nearly a day before he calmed down enough to laugh at it. Those of us who were on that trip often later teased him by announcing, “And Now The DOMINGO PEENYA SHOW” That was all it would take to get a very stern glare from the Drum Major.
I honestly don't believe there was ever a Marine who marched behind Drum Major Belschner that didn't do so with an extra intensive pride to be their very best and better! He was just that kind of Senior Staff NCO and I treasure all those memories of working alongside him in the office and parading behind him through many memorial events from the 1965 World's Fair, Fiesta de San Antonio, Texas State Fair, Harlingen Marine Military Academy, the Mobile Mardi Gras (the original one unlike New Orleans), the Minneapolis Winter Carnival, The Cherry Blossom Festival, State Arrivals and Departures, the Milwaukee, Wisconsin Circus Days Parade, Friday Night & Special Parades at the Barracks and countless Iwo Jima Parades.
He always took care that we were properly billeted, fed and cared for and if necessary to pull out a card from his billfold which had the direct phone number to the Commandant of the Marine Corps for assistance when we were not receiving the support in the field we had been promised.
Drum Major Belschner was a Marine's Marine and I loved him like a brother and remain intensely proud to have served under him! Were he not a human being he should be mounted and placed in a special display case in our Marine Corps Museum as the epitome of what a Drum Major should look like!
God Bless Drum Major Belschner
An Old Friend
Dave "DB" Wright, 8th & I, Drum & Bugle Corps and Band, 1965-74, Vietnam veteran, Las Vegas, NV
80th Anniversary of the D and B, June, 2014
80th Anniversary of the D and B, June, 2014
80th Anniversary of the D and B, June, 2014
80th Anniversary of the D and B, June, 2014
8th & I Drum & Bugle Corps, 1962-63, Gettysburg
Conducting CWO Christopher Stergiou, Director. Drum Major GySgt Eugene Belschner. Bandmaster to his left flank MSgt Robert “Red” Toole
Submitted by Dave "DB" Wright, 8th & I, Drum & Bugle Corps and Band, 1965-74, Vietnam veteran, Las Vegas, NV
6-4-15 ... "DB" WRIGHT''S VIEWS ON THE EVOLUTION OF "THE COMMANDANT'S OWN"
I'll probably stir up a hornet's nest with my comments, but then those of you who know me remember that never really stopped me very often! The USAF Drum & Bugle Corps was without a doubt the best in all the armed forces back in its day. Great deal of talent and Truman Crawford's musical arrangements went a long way in attaining that high degree of musical ability. But they were, after all, Air Force and not Marine Corps!
I have always taken umbrage at the "claim" that Col. Truman Crawford "built" the US Marine Drum & Bugle Corps as well! That recognition rightly belongs with CWO Christopher Stergiou, Director of the US Marine Drum & Bugle Corps, "The Commandant's Own". It was Mr. Stergiou who was hand selected by then Colonel Chapman upon his appointment in 1956 as Commander of the Marine Barracks 8th & I in DC. The Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Randolph McCall Pate, had personally selected Col. Chapman with orders to square away the Barracks, which he felt had slipped in recent years. Col. Chapman had previously served with GySgt Stergiou and held him in high respect. The Col. gave MSgt Stergiou (I seem to recall he was either a MSgt or a GySgt who was quickly promoted to MSgt, after taking over the D&B) his complete backing to transfer in, or out, anyone. Mr. Stergiou cleaned house! Not long after that the Col. got Mr. Stergiou promoted to WO1. Mr. Stergiou brought in Marine Field Musics he knew from his long time as one himself such as; Drum Major Eugene Belschner, MSgt ( Ret. MGySgt) Robert "Red" Toole (Bandmaster), SSgt "Hook" Masicak ( Ret. GySgt, spelling may be wrong, as cymblists & Instrument Repairman), SSgt Robert Wrenn (retired MSgt as Contra Bass Leader), Sgt Mario J. Silvestrini ( Ret. 1stSgt, Bass Drummer & silk painted the Bass Drum Heads), SSgt Anthony Aloi ( Ret MSgt Bass Drummer) Sgt John J. Brosnahan ( Ret MSgt, as Drum Master who also wrote the Drill), Sgt Allan Emerman ( Ret MSgt, as Baritone Section Leader) Sgt Eric Bay ( Ret MSgt, as French Horn Leader) and Soprano Buglers; Raymond Anderson (Sgt), Patrick Slater (later SSgt), Robert "Buzz" McCabe (later Sgt) and Sgt Richard Thomas (Retired MSgt) to name a few. When I joined the D&B in January of 1965 as a Cpl and Soprano Bugler Mr. Stergiou was a CWO-3 and all the above where there, with the exception of Tony Aloi who was then an Instrument Repairman in the US Marine Band, "The President's Own". He later returned while I was still a Cpl. By then some of the things Mr. Stergiou had accomplished: (1) Getting authorization from CMC for the wearing of a scarlet and gold rope around the left shoulder of our Dress Green Blouse and Dress Red Blouse at all times. Since it was little know throughout the Corps each of us were issued a laminated wallet card to carry stating the order authorizing it. (2) Wearing of the Dress Red Blouse with white leather gauntlets when performing. (3) using the title "The Commandant's Own" on our stationary and bass drum heads, as well as being so noted on the Friday Night Parade Ceremony "Program" (4) working with the Silent Drill Team wearing period uniforms of our Marine Corps presenting flags of that era being marched in to a patriotic musical number of that era which we preformed at schools and such (5) Instituting the Battle Color Ceremony along with the Silent Drill Team and Color Guard of the Corps which we presented all over the nation (6) and many innovations to the Friday Night Parade such as the D&B's Slow March, D&B Short Concert, Long Bugler on top Rampart playing Taps in a spot light, the Rampart Fanfare Buglers (7) establishing new and more demanding show routines for the D&B, also performed at the Iwo Jima Parade on Tuesday Evenings in the summer time and around the nation.
When I joined the D&B in January of 1965, I had to memorize a vast amount of music in a very short time from books, as well as the drill routine along with the various ceremonies and parades we performed in. I also stood Duty Music of the Guard at both the Barracks and down at the Navy Yard. But above everything we were Riflemen Marines first and foremost! Mr. Stergiou demanded perfection from us as Marines and then musicians. I recall once his being dissatisfied at our area appearance. So he ordered a Field Day. At the end of a long day of cleaning and scrubbing he inspected and flunked us. We repeated with ever-greater effort and attention to slightest of detail and again "flunked" at the end of the day! The 3rd Day we climbed ladders and wire brushed the concrete window sills on the outside and "Pledged" our decks and finally passed his inspection! He expected us to compete with the other companies in all things because we were Barracks Marines!
So to "claim" Truman Crawford built the Marine Drum & Bugle Corps is just flat out wrong in my humble opinion! He joined it under Mr. Stergiou as a SSgt and served as our musical arranger. Later, he helped write our marching shows and offered technical musical advice. But the day to day rehearsals were under the baton of MGySgt Robert "Red" Toole, we marched behind Drum Major MSgt Eugene Belchner (the very best Drum Major I ever saw anywhere) and were commanded by CWO3 Stergiou! Truman Crawford was not in our chain of command but served in more of a staff or advisor capacity. Mr. Stergiou gave Truman a free hand in arranging, but he approved what we played in its final form, always! He declined to allow Truman to infiltrate into our marching some of the "civilian D&B manner of marching ," instead demanding the snap and precision demanded of all Marines back then! Our knees were always raised high at the Mark Time, with toes pointed down and we pivoted with a snap, never rounding a corner or sliding our feet along the ground. Our soloists played while standing at Attention and without added body and head movement! He conducted in the same manner. Yes, after CWO Gary Losey (Baritone Bugler, then our Drum Major) retired as Director, a great many of these things sadly began to change under Truman Crawford as Director.
He had gotten Mr. Stergiou to allow him to recruit and enlist talent from civlian D&B's "for duty only with the Marine Drum & Bugle Corps", directly out of ITR. Prior to that, we had gotten our talent from the Field Music Schools and the DIV or FMF D&B's in the field who had experience in our Corps. When we changed over we did get better talent, but lost that connection with our Corps brought from the Div & FMF! I've always regretted that loss, especially while I was still serving in the D&B as a Bugler, Section Leader & Volunteer Clerk handling all the Admin.
I do not mean anything I have said to be negative towards today's Marine Drum & Bugle Corps and its members. I'm sure they devote as much effort as we all did and are far more technically improved than we were as well. But they have been sold a propaganda line about who really was the "father" of the Unites States Marine Drum & Bugle Corps, "The Commandant's Own". CWO 3 Christopher Stergiou and his corps of SNCO's & NCO's need that recognition instead!
Respectfully submitted by 8th & I Marine David "DB" Wright, Drum & Bugle Corps and U.S. Marine Band, 1965-1974, Vietnam veteran, Las Vegas, NV
7-2-15 .... DB Wright's "Exotic" 8th & I Memories During The Mid-1960's
I believe it was around the summer of 1965 or 66 that the homes on the block directly across from the back of the Barracks had been redone and were upscale. The one on the south end of the block was directly across from the D&B's Squad Bays. We had two the upper one over the Mess hall and on the same level as the rest of the 2nd deck of the Barracks and a lower one that was I believe 3 steps lower and over the Kitchen area. Well two beautiful strippers moved into the home directly across from our squad bays and we quickly discovered that they had no curtains. We could look down and see right into the upstairs bedroom and the living room. One of them had a boy friend who rode a motorcycle and he would ride it right into the living room and park it. They had some very interesting parties with him, the two girls and him, both in the living room and on their bed! Word spread like wild fire and as the Police Sgt I made sure that everyone got a fair and equal chance to watch the "shows"! About a week after the shows started I was watching with my binoculars when a voice I didn't recognize asked if he could borrow my binoculars. I turned and immediately called "ATTENTION ON DECK" slamming to attention myself. It was LtCol Wilson the Bks XO! Of course I handed him the binoculars and he observed for awhile, made a few comments about the athletic ability of the 3, handed me back my binoculars and strolled on out of the squad bay.
On a Sunday morning the boy friend, after a few weeks of their every increasing levels of difficulty shows the boy friend came out pushing his motorcycle and suddenly halted. Some of our troops had hung sheets out the window with words on them, such as; "A NEW WORLD'S RECORD!" "CHAMPION and STILL KING!" and several others I don't recall. Damned if he didn't clasp his hands together and hold them up acknowledging his accolades and went on his way to a rousing cheer from all watching from the Barracks.
Well that ended that! Prior to this the cleaners truck would arrive and he would empty it with all their stuff they had dry cleaned. Damn near filled the entire truck! He went in and received payment in full in the upstairs bedroom from both of them at the same time! This happened several times before some of our over enthusiastic younger Marines hung up the signs.
The Monday morning after the "sign" incident both young ladies dressed as if going to meet the Cardinal arrived a Col Carney's door and complained to him. The Col did encourage them to put up curtains and said he would do what he could. In do time all the barracks rats were duly counseled by their Company First Sergeants about spying on people and such. The H&HS Co 1stSgt even kept a straight face while admonishing us, as he had stopped by several times to watch himself. The "ladies" painted the insides of their windows with black paint and we no longer were able to attend nightly school where all the positions of the Kama Sutra were performed, and even a few that aren't in that great book!
David "DB" Wright, D & B Corps and Band, 1965-1974, Vietnam veteran, Las Vegas, NV
DAVID "DB" WRIGHT'S 1960'S MEMORIES OF A D & B CORPS DETAIL
7-30-15 ... Great candid memory of those State Arrivals in sometimes bad weather. I recall one that is burned into my memory, though I don't remember who was the visitor. As usual we were all in place standing at Parade Rest a good hour before the intended arrival. It was down in the very low 20's. LBJ was the president and I seem to recall it was some ambassador who was officially presenting his credentials assuming his new post. He was supposed to arrive, be met a the door by one of LBJ's aide and escorted into the White House for Tea and then leave. Not so bad.
The Drum & Bugle Corps was to provide the music and we had been ordered to wear our over coats due to the extreme cold. Not comfortable but we could take it as we watched the Sailors and Airmen shivering with little attempt to control it as we and the Soldiers were hiding it from view. Then one of LBJ's aides came out and looked at the dreary scene and motioned over the Army Colonel in charge of the Military Department of DC Joint Service Detail and pointed at the D&B while expressing him self with wild waving of his arms and motioning to all the other troops lined up. The Army Colonel saluted him and marched smartly over to our Drum Major (I believe it was still Drum Major Belschner, in fact I'm sure of it as I think about it and can recall his command that followed being given in his famous "Donald Duck" like harsh voice when he was really pissed off about something, or someone) and gave him a brief order. The Army Colonel then marched back to his position, in his nice warm overcoat, and the Drum Major did an about face and called the D&B to Attention. He then ordered us to ground our instruments which we did. Then he ordered we were to go behind the shrubs to the right (facing the White House) of the front entrance, remove our over coats, adjust our white waste belts back to normal and to then stack our overcoats on the ground behind the shrubs. We did so and fell back in at Attention. Then the Drum Major ordered us to pick up our instruments and then put us back to Parade Rest. As usual we had arrived and were in place a full hour prior to the time of the arrival and this happened about 15 minutes after we had all fell in. LBJ's Aide reappeared and was delighted, at what we later learned was, "the much needed color to such a dreary day" in our scarlet blouses and dress blue trousers with the white leather gauntlets.
Only a few of our newer members had failed to wear their insulated underwear all us "veterans" always wore when it was cold, over coats or not, and they really suffered because of that, but never again failed to wear them! We stood there emitting huge clouds of breath vapor like steam rising from us, determined not to shiver noticeably in front of the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and damn sure not in front of our brother Barracks Marines! Hell even those warm looking white leather gauntlets were as cold as being bare handed as they had no lining what so ever.
Finally, the Ambassador arrived, the Troops, already at Attention, snapped off a beautiful "Present Arms" and the D&B struck up the appropriate bugle call "Attention" and then a musical piece we had learned for the occasion as he was pulling to a stop and getting out of his limo. LBJ himself came out to the top of the steps and greeted the Ambassador like his Texas neighbor and they went inside. Instead of Tea and 15 minutes LBJ had lunch served and it was well over an hour later when they finally came out. Another Present Arms, "Attention" Bugle Call and another musical number and they left. Then the Army Colonel returned command to the various service commanders of their units. The D&B scrambled back into our overcoats, which were ice cold and stiff and with the Army leading we all marched off to the D&B's Drum Taps, boarded our nice warm buses and departed. Thank God we were being transported by leased DC Metro Transit buses that had really great heaters in them and the driver's having saw us and how miserable we were trying to avoid looking and cranked up those bus heaters full blast.
I remember when we returned to the Barracks the D&B & MCI was rushed directly into the Mess Hall for hot soup and coffee by the Colonel and SgtMaj. We later learned that the CO of Ceremonial Guard Company had called the Col using the Bus's phone and had explained what had happened and how cold we all were, requesting the hot soup. I'm sure that Bld #58's Mess Hall did the same for them and that Ceremonial Guard Company CO's reputation soared amongst the D&B because of his taking care of us to the best of his ability to do so, after completing our mission!
The only time I was ever colder was when we froze our ears in the infamous up and back on the same day Winter Carnival parade and concert in Minneapolis that turned into a 3 day ordeal!
Of course by this time we were all wearing Clarino instead of leather so no spit shines to melt, or freeze and crack, as had so often happened in my early days at the Barracks and our brass was anodized so it always looked super sharp and shiny. But one thing we always were sure of was that our Officers and SNCO's did their very best to minimize our exposure to the elements and to get us out of it as quickly as possible! In the other armed services we saw flashes of this, but it was the SOP in our Corps in accordance with our history and motto, " SEMPER FIDELIS!"
David "DB" WRIGHT, 8th & I, Drum & Bugle Corps and Band, 1965-74 / USMC 1959-74, Vietnam veteran, Las Vegas, NV
Photo taken around 1972 or 73 of a Staff NCO Mess Night in the John Phillip Sousa Band Hall of the Marine Barracks, 8th & I Sts., S.E., Wash., DC. I'm the 2 hash mark Gunny with the mustache at the far left of the photo. I had grown the mustache to infuriate Col. Graham, the Bks. CO, who had given me an order not to grow one when I was transferred to the Band. But, with the Band being a different command, his orders over me ceased upon my transfer so I grew the damn thing just to piss him off! And it did the job! I recall all in the photo, but only in a hazy memory, but the 2nd to my left facing you was the Bks. S-1 Chief and a really good Marine. I later worked with him as the Bks. Security Clearance Chief and we got along great!
Semper Fi, David "DB" Wright, 8th & I, Drum & Bugle Corps and Band, 1965-1974 / USMC 1959-1974, Vietnam veteran, Las Vegas, NV
DAVID "DB" WRIGHT'S LATE 60'S / EARLY 70'S MEMORIES OF THE D & B CORPS IN TEXAS
10-29-15 ... During my tour at 8th & I, the Drum & Bugle Corps went to the Fiesta de San Antonio every spring. We marched in a day time 7 mile long parade and the next day a night time 7 mile long parade. One year we attended the Hemisphere Fair there. We were always treated like kings down in Texas and we really loved the people. There was one spot on the parade route that a group of former Marines always gathered and we always struck up "THE MARINE'S HYMN" as we passed through it to their great delight.
One year the day time parade got rained out. So the next day they decided to march both parades that day. We were taken to an American Legion Home to get ready for the afternoon parade. There was a float in front of us and in front of that was an Army Calvary Mounted Band riding in jeeps out of Ft Hood Texas. Further up was the NORAD (North American Defense Command Band) who had bragged how they were going to blow those candy assed Marines from DC off the street. It was comprised of American Soldiers, Airmen and Sailors and Canadian Unified Armed Services personnel so they wore a special uniform that made them look like a Latin American dictator it had to many ropes and gold braid on it. We fell out and marched a mile over to the form up point for the parade. We quickly discovered that those damn jeeps emitted great clouds of stinky smoke we had to breath the entire parade. But to our delight every so often there would be a disabled jeep sitting at the curb. We completed that 7 mile parade and then marched 2 miles back to the Legion Home to rest.
When it got dark we fell in and marched the mile back over to the parade start point (now a total of 10 miles marching so far). We stepped off and the bad part of the night time parade was they had high school kids (several of them) in front and along side each float and marching unit carrying huge flares. Those flares lit us up in color but they really did stink badly and burnt out eyes. During that parade all the jeeps conked out along the route. Sort of looked like the retreat route of a defeated army. And to our great delight we started seeing members of the NORAD Band sitting, and actually passed out in the curbs and puking their guts out. The heat was really humid and it tore them up but we were more used to it from parading in DC all the time. Well there was a long hill up to the end point of the parade. As we started up there was the remainder of that NORAD Band sprawled all over like Custer's Last Stand. We were lead by my good buddy 1stLt Jim Bathurst in his dress blues with saber. Jim had held a 2Lt's job leading an Infantry Platoon for 13 months in Viet-Nam and being awarded a Silver Star, Bronze Star with "V" for Valor and a Purple Heart. He also was awarded a Battle Field Recommended Direct Commission from Gunny Sergeant (it took a while to catch up to him) to LT. He had also served as a Marine Drill Instructor at Parris Island. So we all loved him and he eventually retired as a full Colonel and was the one who lived on Lake Sunset for a few years outside of Girard. Behind him in the line of march came the Color Guard of the Corps with our National Colors and the official Colors of the Marine Corps with all it's Battle Award Streamers and sterling silver battle bands on the staff with a rifle guard on each flank. Then came the D&B and following us the US Marine Silent Drill Platoon. When the Drum Major noted the NORAD Band he gave the sign to play "THE MARINE'S HYMN!" We were all ragged, but we blew that Hymn louder and with more spirit than I ever recall us doing it anywhere and everyone stepped with exact precision and ram rod backs. We halted and were given the command Right Face. Then the Color Guard was played front and center to the "NATIONAL EMBLEM MARCH". Honors (Presenting arms) were rendered and the order given "Retire the Colors". Again we played them off to "THE NATION EMBLEM MARCH" and the marched directly onto one of the waiting buses. 1stLt Bathurst then turned over command to the Drum Major and the Platoon Sergeant of the Drill Platoon. The Drill Platoon marched aboard the buses at Port Arms in single file and remained standing on the buses. We fell out and packed our instruments into their cases and loaded them onto a waiting truck and fell back into formation and was then marched aboard our buses in single file and also remained standing. Once out of sight we all collapsed into the seats exhausted. We had marched and played 17 miles that day.
We were billeted at old Ft Sam Houston so we all got together and went to the club. We entered it like we owned it and the Jeep Band and the NORAD Band guys, at least those who could make it, were there still looking like Custer's Last Stand. We all stood at the bar and drank them out of the place that night before a single one of us sat down in that club to the immense delight of the Sam Houston Soldiers!
On another trip to San Antonio after wards we flew down to Galveston for a parade then to the Marine Academy (for high school kids) at Harlingen, Texas and then over to the King Ranch. There had been cooking a whole cow/steer in a pit buried over with dirt for a day. They dug it up and it was some of the best bar-b-que I've ever eaten.
Every October on Texas versus Oklahoma football game we went to Dallas for the Texas State Fair. We always had a blast down there. The first year I went during the long night time parade through the fair grounds there was a float in front of us and in front of it was the University of Texas Marching Band, nearly two hundred strong. We were only 48 total and that year we were playing "PARADE OF THE CHARIOTEERS" from movie Ben Hur when the chariot's were parading in before the big race. When we finished the parade the U of Tex Band and it's Director were waiting for us. Seems they were playing a quiet piece and every time we struck up we literally drowned them out entirely. He asked us to perform it for them which we did. He was really in awe of the sound we produced. He promised us that next year we would not blow them off the street, nor would any other band do it. The following year he was waiting for us with his band when we arrived for the parade. Damn if he had not gotten rid of all the woodwinds and every brass instruments bell was facing forward like ours did. Boy was it ever an awesome sound and it soon spread amongst other major bands.
We used to have a saying that when the National Colors passed by in the North a few people would notice it and salute and stand. In the mid west and south nearly everyone stood up and removed their hats and held them over their hearts as the our national colors passed in front of them. But in Texas if someone forgot to stand and remove their hat, some big Texan would stand him, remove his hat and insert it into his chest cavity and hold him up until the colors had passed by before allowing him to collapse in pain!
I recall once in Shreveport, Louisiana during a night time parade during the time Viet-Nam was really bad and service people were treated like dogs some drunk ran out and spit on 1stLt Jim Bathurst's medals. He then ran around Jim and started for our Colors. Both of the color guards with fixed bayonets came down with their rifles leveled ready to bayonet the asshole and 1stLt Jim Bathurst was hard after him with his saber drawn back and swinging at the assholes head. But by that time several very, very large red necks had stormed out of the crowd at the curb, grabbed the "hippie" by his long hair and drug him over to the curb. A church going dressed little old lady in her 80's was whipping the "hippie" mercilessly with her very nice big purse. As I marched by him the red necks had propped the "Hippies" heel on the curb and one of them jumped down onto his knee and I heard it break in a sickening sound that turned my stomach. A police officer who had witnessed the entire event strolled over slowly, we had stopped due to a back up ahead of us, and asked what happened. The little old lady said the poor boy had slipped off the curb from to much drink and these nice boys were trying to help him. The officer looked at them and said, "That's exactly what I saw happen!" As he turned around he "inadvertently kicked the"Hippie" in his side" to cheers from the crowd! Those people took our colors very seriously!
Semper Fi ... David "DB" Wright, 8th & I, Drum & Bugle Corps and Band, 1965-74 / USMC 1959-74, Vietnam veteran, Las Vegas, NV
MID-60'S / EARLY 70'S ... DRUM & BUGLE CORPS ...
MEMORIES OF MGYSGT ROBERT "RED" TOOLE,
BANDMASTER ... AND OTHER D & B DETAILS
Did you note his medals? Good Conduct, American Theatre WWII, Victory Medal WWII, National Defense & Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (I suspect for Cuban Crisis). Somehow he missed out on Korea, which I know Drum Major Belchner was in as I recall his Korean Service and UN Medal for Korea. So here's a Top Sergeant E9 with over 20 years service and was actually "Well Decorated" for that era. But look at the ribbon displays today, especially the Rear End and Staff Pogues, and they look rival, or exceed, "Chesty's" display with never having been close to combat! Just an observation!
George Siciliano, French Horn Bugler in D&B sent me an email advising he had been in the 2nd MarDiv D&B while Top Toole was in charge of it during the Cuban Crisis. "Red" had sent him up to the Barracks to audition for the D&B and when he returned he and Top Toole were both transferred to the D&B in March of 63.
Also received another email from Ed Nichols who was a snare drummer in the D&B at the Barracks, stating Top Toole had been at the Barracks D&B from 1958-61 when he served there and he remembered "Red" as a fun guy but "by the book when it came to the D&B".
He and Drum Major Eugene Belschner were two of the finest senior Staff NCO's it was my pleasure to have served with. During the time CWO Stergiou was out with Heart By-Pass (almost a year back then) the two of them ran the D&B. Because I was the "Clerk" I prepared all the rosters and carried aircraft seating assignments & rosters on trips, so I was generally close to them and the designated OIC of the detail. During this period of time the trip OIC's was often a 1stLt or Capt, usually from Guard Company and they always relied heavily on Top Toole and Drum Major Belschner when problems arose on those trips. Showed their wisdom to turn to those SNCO's for "recommendations" and they always came through for them with flying colors!
One of the great all time memories of Top Toole was during our annual visit to the Fiesta De San Antonio down in, Texas. After a long day the D&B, Color Guard and Drill Team were all bused out to the Lone Star Brewery. Top Toole and the Drum Major knew the Brewery's "Hospitality" guy, a retired Marine SNCO. We got a full tour of the Brewery, their museum, I think it was called "Antler" something, where they had a ton of huge antlers, horns, mounted heads and other animals that had been shot by the CEO/Owner of Lone Star. When we walked into the front doors of it you were confronted with a stuffed Grizzly Bear reared up on it's hind feat, snarling exposing it's teeth and as if lashing out with both of it's massive front paws with their huge claws. It towered over us and at the base of it's feet laid a very expensive high powered hunting rifle whose barrel had burst and spit open. Along side it laid a very large "Bowie" styled hunting knife. Next to this was a plaque with an explanation of the display and photo's of the owner, badly mauled beside the dead bear with the knife still grasped in his hand and it's blade bloody. There was also a later photo of the gentleman standing alongside the display as we saw it. It seemed while in Alaska hunting the bear completely surprised the hunting party and had charged out of the bushes at the Owner of Lone Star who managed to get off a single shot. But somehow that day the barrel had become plugged with mud which caused the barrel to burst badly injuring him. He threw down the rifle and drew his rifle as the rest of the hunting party tried to maneuver to get a clear shot at the bear but couldn't because by then it had closed, rearing up and was mauling the victim. But the victim stabbed that huge Grizzly numerous times with that knife finally managing to kill it, only to have the bear fall on top of him. One of the hunting party was a photographer, thus the photo's of the attack, and the victim lying alongside the dead bear after they managed to roll it off of him enough to begin to treat him. I'll never forget that display nor the enormous size of that Grizzly!
Well after a long period in the "Hospitality Room" and putting a substantial hit on the company's expense account all was pretty "happy and drunk" by then. I've always gotten sick on the mere smell of beer, still do, so was a really rare oddity as a Marine SNCO (I was a SSgt). But it often served the units well since I could be relied to be sober and get everyone back to our billets. There was a huge artificial lake on just outside the brewery with a pier running out into it. Needless to say as we started for the buses it became a wonder to see. When we were out near the end of the pier a bunch of the D&B's troops decided it would be great sport to throw Top Toole into the water. They grabbed him and he was laughing good heartily and going along with them as they threw him a considerable distance out into the water. I was there trying to stop it when they turned and decided the Drum Major should also be thrown in. The Drum Major went into a defensive stance and announced in no uncertain terms no one was going to throw him in. By this time I was watching Top Toole splashing to the surface with a stub of a cigar clenched in his teeth and waving shouting. We all thought he was just playing around but on his 2nd or 3rd time up he managed to shout, "I CAN'T SWIM! WHOSE GOING TO SAVE ME?" It didn't register on hardly anyone but it did to me. So I started grabbing several of our troops and began to shove them in shouting at them to "SAVE TOP TOOLE! HE CAN'T SWIM!" My buddy, and usually roommate on trips, SSgt Pat Slater had also noted it and was doing the same as I shoving in troops to save Top Toole. To my immense relief afterwards, none of the troops we had shoved in were non swimmers! They managed to get Top Toole out and Pat and I grabbed his hands and pulled him up onto the pier. We were all in our Tropical Uniform Class A with long sleeved shirts & ties. After we boarded the city buses leased to transport us back to Lackland AFB where we were staying in the middle of their boot camp, there stood Top Toole at the front of the bus with his arm looped around one of the pools shivering in the air conditioning. He reached into his pocket and pulled out another cigar in its wrapper and managed to get it out and put the soggy thing in his mouth and then said, "OK! WHOSE GOT A LIGHT!" Some gave him a lighter and there he stood trying to get that soggy cigar to light and finally managed to do so. He joked about the event all the way back to the base. The next morning he slid up to me and quietly thanked me for "probably saving my life!" It was like getting a medal for valor to me.
Another quick story about that trip. Pat Slater and I sent out horns and dress uniforms back to Lackland with some of the troops after a gig at the Hemisphere and stayed to party. We got into a "dance hall" out of the old west and took a table on the upper balcony in our Class A Trops and purchased a round of drinks. A tall Texan gentleman wearing a blazer introduced himself to us as our drinks came and asked if he could join us. He pulled out a $20 bill from his jacket pocket and gave it to the waitress and then put the change returned into his other jacket pocket. After a "few" drinks our new friend turned out to own the "dance hall" as well as a string of Ford auto dealerships across Texas making the largest auto dealer in the entire state! For the rest of the night he kept pulling out brand new $20 bills from one pocket and putting the change into the other pocket to our amazement and delight! Needless to say Pat, I and our new found friend were pretty drunk in a short time. They were drinking beers and I was drinking Singapore Slings. A fiddler came onto the stage and begin to fiddle and I stared quietly calling square dance like stuff. Of course Pat thought it was the greatest thing since canned beans and I should join the fiddler on the stage, which our new found Texan friend thought was a great idea as well. In short order I found myself hanging from the 2nd deck balcony from their hands and still about 8 feet off the stage when they let go of me. After managing to get onto my feet and the Texan loudly telling the fiddler to play for me I staggered to the fiddler and asked him if he knew "Turkey In the Straw"? What fiddler doesn't know that little ditty? He didn't, and to boot he was even drunker than I was! I whispered a few bars into his ears and he finally recognized it and began to play it while I roared our a passable Square Dance Call to the delight of the audience. At closing time Pat and I declined a very generous offer of being driven back to Lackland AFB as we would take the bus. We found a bus stop and I read the schedule and then asked Pat what time it was. It was by then 0100 hrs and the last bus ran at 2400 hrs. After figuring out the math we started marching towards Lackland (a distance of about 20 miles) and hitch hiking. We finally got into our racks after a considerable distance of forced marching around 0400 hrs. At 0500 hrs we awoke to get our gear shined, pressed and squared away for that day's events, as well as a shower and shave. Both of us had a pretty bad hangover and when Pat was like that he could a real nasty "bear" of a guy. The recruits of the USAF on the base had orders to "give way" and allow us to the head of chow lines because of our tight schedules. We arrived outside mess hall about 0600 hrs and there in front of us was a whole "Flight" (like one of our recruit platoons, only larger) and their Training Sergeant. Pat tapped one of the Airmen in the rear and said, "Give Way Airman!" He glanced at us and then ignored us. Pat looked at me so I tried and again he looked at us and then ignored us. We looked at each other and then the "angry bear" in Pat roared to life! He grabbed two of the rear rank Airmen by the collars and jerked them backwards sending them flying while roaring (as Marines often seem to do, especially Staff NCO's) "GET THE F%$# OUT OF OUR WAY! Well it seemed a solution to our problem of short time as well as a sort of "Marine" thing to do in that situation, so I joined in and together we pretty much destroyed that formation sending them flying, or fleeing, while we made it inside and into the chow line. Once inside I began to worry a bit so I glanced out and there, standing with his hands on his hips was their Training Sergeant in front of his restored formation saying, "AREN'T YOU GLAD YOU HAVE ME FOR YOUR TRAINING SERGEANT INSTEAD OF ONE OF THOSE MISERABLE MARINES?" Great teaching point I'm sure, but to me it was "we weren't in trouble!" We all noted after that incident all the Airman recruits, and a lot of their NCO's hurried to allow us to the head of the chow lines for the rest of our stay.
On another visit and in the chow hall line when were were down on a base in Little Rock, Arkansas, there was a USAF MSgt a distance behind Pat and I. It was lunch and they were serving hamburgers. Directly behind Pat and I were several of the Drill Teams finest and biggest Marines towering over Pat and I (we were only 5-10). The MSgt USAF Cook put a single hamburger on my tray and I asked for another one. He said, "You only get one hamburger in the USAF Marine!" I politely explained we weren't in the Air Force and Marines always get two hamburgers to start with. Then I forked a 2nd hamburger onto my tray and he immediately took it back. After 2 or 3 times of this I forked it back, thew the tray onto the sliding bars and drew back ready to hit the cook saying, "TOUCH IT AND I'LL DECK YOU!" He looked at me and the very intent stares of those big Drill Team Marines and said nothing but forked two hamburgers onto each Marine's tray. When the USAF MSgt got to the cook he was only given one so he asked for a 2nd one to which the irritated cook replied, "YOU AIN'T NO F&$%ING MARINE! MOVE ON!" We always enjoyed our stays on Air Force bases for their excellent quarters but hated their weight control requirements in their mess halls. But we were always able to "persuade" them to feed us as Marines!
On another trip to Philly we were staying in the Navy Yard. Several of our troops had gone over to the club and had returned busted and broke. Seems the local Marines were having fun "screwing" those pretty boys from 8th & I! As soon as one of our troops opened up the hatch to enter the club, still standing on the outside the bar keeper would ring the club's "Ship's Bell" and announce "YOU OWE THE CLUB A ROUND OF DRINKS FOR HAVING YOUR COVER ON IN THE CLUB!" Since there was no one in the club except Philly Marines and all of them were NCO's or SNCO's they made it stick over our junior troops. As we were hearing this tale from the troops Top Toole joined our circle and listened to the troops story. Then he said, "COME ON WE'RE ALL GOING TO THE CLUB!" We all followed Top Toole and he waved us to the side of the hatch to the club. Then he violently opened the hatch to insure he was noted by the bar tender who immediately rang the "Ship's Bell" and made his announcement about having to stand for a round for the club. Top Toole stood still with his cigar smoking like a steam ship at full speed and forcibly said, "I AIN'T COME THROUGH THE HATCH YET! I'M STANDING OUTSIDE AND BY REGULATION I AM REQUIRED TO BE COVERED." He then stepped through the hatch removing his cover and putting it on a hook as we all did following him in. He marched up to the bar and looked at all the NCO's and SNCO's at the bar and none of them outranked him. Then he firmly announced that we would be drinking a round for each of our troops who had stood a round for the Bar previously "OR ELSE!" We got our rounds of drinks and he even got the money taken from the troops, minus the cost of their own drink, back from the bar tender after threatening to call the base Admiral, an old buddy of mine! Never did learn if he really knew the admiral or not but the bar tender thought he did.
One last story about Top Toole. We bused down to Woodstock, Virginia to the County Fair. Between performances and our return trip the troops were free for a couple of hours to enjoy the fair. There was one of those games of chance that carnivals often have to take money from the "rubes". Its actually a game that if you have enough money you will win, but the chances of that happening at a carnival is extremely rare so its about as close to robbery as you can legally get. The Carney running the game was good. It was a pay day and a lot of our troops had their monthly check in their pockets having cashed their checks before leaving the barracks. I was still new to the unit and a Cpl when one of our brown bagger Cpl's (I was a senior Cpl) told me he was in deep trouble because he had lost his entire pay check to the Carney. Having worked as a "Barker" for a few side shows in carnivals while in high school I knew most of the Carney scams and games and how they worked. So I strolled over and watched the Carney work a while. He was not trusting the game to rob our troops but was also using some light of hand when he moved pieces on the board between bets! After I knew what was happening I went and found Top Toole and he got the Drum Major. I told them what the Carney was doing and how to spot it and that several of our married troops, and even NCO's had lost their entire pay checks to the Carney. They strolled over and watched the Carney work and cheating one of our troops desperately trying to win his lost money back to only lose more. Top had sent one of our Sgt's to find a Deputy Sheriff and bring him over to the game. He arrived right in the middle of Top Toole and the Drum Major confronting the Carney with most of our troops on the scene as well. Top Toole and the Drum Major were giving the Carney the choice of paying back all the money our troops had been scammed of by him, or they'd simply stand back while our troops took back their money by what ever means. The Deputy arrived in time to hear this challenge and when the Carney appealed to the Deputy for his protection the Deputy said, "I didn't hear a thing and if these Marines don't get their money back I won't see a thing other than you violently attacking them and they defending themselves!" Then the Deputy told Top Toole and the Drum Major they knew where to find him if they needed him and he walked away. The Carney looked at the entire D&B standing in front of him and decided it would be fair to give the troops back their money. Each Marine who had lost money stepped up and told Top Toole how much his check as for and was given that much back by a very, very unhappy Carney! Would you believe a short timer later the Sheriff arrived at the fair and ordered that game shut down the Carney out of the county by sunset. Seems both the Deputy and Sheriff were Parris Island graduates!
Top did have a great sense of humor along with fairness and always took care of the troops, as did Drum Major Belschner. Check this link, http://www.8thandi.com/photo60wright.html
NOTE After retiring from the Corps, MGySgt Toole was employed by the U.S. Postal Service. He was hit, head-on, by a drunken driver and killed. Tragic!
Semper Fi, David "DB" Wright, Drum & Bugle Corps and Band, 1965-74 / USMC 1959-74, Vietnam veteran, Las Vegas, NV
8th & I Marine George Siciliano, D & B Corps, Mid-60's ... Memories Of MGySgt Toole
11-29-15 ... Hi DB,
I would like to tell you a story of how I ended up at 8th & I. Top Toole was in charge of the 2nd Mar Div D&B at Camp Lejeune. During the Cuban Crisis we were shipped out to Norfolk and put on the USS Boxer an LPH. After we floated around for about 30 days or so we disembarked and went back to our Barracks at Lejeune. I approached Top Toole and requested that I take an audition at 8th and I. He said he would love to see me there, however my lack of ability in sight reading music would disqualify me. He said if I were willing to stay after liberty call he would help me get ready for an audition. That man came in every night for 2 hours (even on weekends) and worked with me from Dec 1st 1962 thru March of 1963. In March he informed me I was ready. He then broke out a piece of music (Stars and Stripes Forever) and informed me that this was the piece of music they would use to test my sight reading ability. He told me to memorize it. When you get to the sight reading portion, I was to go slowly at the first time through and make a mistake or two. The second time through I was to play at tempo making a mistake or two. The third time I was to play at tempo and really whale it(I played the French Horn). The audition went exactly as he described. When it was time for the sight reading, Mr Stergiou approached me with a piece of music in his hand and put it on the stand. You could see my heart beating on the outside of my shirt. I looked at the music and it was the same piece of music. Let me explain, the exact same piece. You know when the Xerox machine is dirty and a speck ends up on the finished copy well this music had the same specks as the one in Lejune. So I did exactly as instructed and the third time through I whaled it. In fact was told I was looking up in the air. When I was finished Mr Stergiou came out of his office, looked at me square in my eyes and said, Cpl Siciliano have you ever seen this piece of music before? I hesitated and said, “this piece of music sir?” He thought for a second and said, No George perhaps one that looks just like this one. I cleared my throat and said, “Yes sir I have”. With that he and the other Marines in the room burst out laughing. Sgt Toole had set me up. Mr Stergiou laughed and said that he just got off the phone with Sgt Tool and orders for immediate transfer to 8th and I were already cut for both Me and Sgt Toole. When I got back to 2nd Division I looked all over for Tool and they told me he had already left for Washington.
Semper Fi, George & Ginny Siciliano
DB WRIGHT'S MID-1960'S MEMORIES OF SSGT BOB WRENN, DRUM & BUGLE CORPS
HE NEVER GOT A PAY RAISE
One of my dearest friends from the Corps and afterwards was SSgt Bob Wrenn and his wife Anita. For some reason when I checked into the Drum and Bugle Corps in Jan of 65 SSgt Bob Wrenn, the Contras Bass Bugler Section Leader, and I hit off. Maybe we both had the same “warped” sense of humor. Anita was one of the sweetest people I ever met and a tiny little thing.
Bob was one of those unique people you run across in the Marines from time to time who can douse a forrest fire of temper of frozen feelings instantly with some humorous remark that had everyone rolling in fits of laughter, even the ones who were jacked jawed to begin with! One, about year after I joined the D&B, Maintenance was painting the windows and eves on the back side of the Barracks with most of the SNCO's had reserved parking. Mr. Stergiou came in an interrupted rehearsal and announced we were to take a break and those SNCO's who had their cars parked behind the Barracks were to move them because of the painting. They did. The next day same announcement from Mr. Stergiou and again they did. On the 3rd (and final day of painting) Mr. Stergiou again made the announcement, then spotted (now) GySgt Bob Wrenn getting up to go move his car. Mr. Stergiou glared at Gunny Wrenn and said “Where have you been the past two days Wrenn?” Bob looked at him with a big grin and said Bryans Road (about 30 miles south of the Barracks where he lived)! Mr. Steriou exploded at him screaming he had not told him to go home! Bob looked at him totally undisturbed at Mr. Stergiou's anger and said, “YOU TOLD ME TO MOVE MY CAR! YOU DIDN'T TELL WHERE TO SO I MOVED IT HOME!” Mr. Stergiou stood there, while the rest of us were trying to get out of the area of explosion, with his mouth hanging open and eyes bulging out of his head, while Bob stood there with that silly grin of his waiting. Then in a low voice Mr. Stergiou said, “Move it and come back to rehearsal this time!” and stormed back into his office!
My wife and I purchased and moved our first home in St. Charles, Md. in 1969. Bob Wrenn had just been selected for promotion to MSgt wth a transfer out of the D&B so he held a party for the SNCO's and their wives at his home. It was the first such party my wife had attended with me as a SSgt. Of course the wives gathered together upstairs issuing the food and the men went down stairs to the rec room for beer and snacks. I can remember Top (MGySgt) Toole being there, MSgt Tony Aloi, GySgt Gary Losey, and most of the other D&B SNCO's. On the way home I was asking my wife how she had enjoyed the party and the ladies. She then asked me why Bob Wrenn, a Gunnery Sergeant made less than I did as a SSgt? I was confused so asked where that came from and she told me the ladies began discussing pay and Anita told how Bob had not received a single pay raise since he was promoted to Sgt in Japan a few years earlier. She had even stated how much they received a month, or that Bob put into their checking account. I explained it was a way some Marines saved money for “their families”! She said she had told Anita what I made! I damn near wrecked my car when I heard that!!!!!!
Next morning I was waiting at the top of the ladder well for Bob to come in. Hell I had gone in about an hour early to make sure and catch him and warn him of the bad news. I pulled him aside and told him the bad news, waiting to get my rear end ripped out. Instead Bob slapped me on the back, and in a flippant manner, while laughing, said “DON'T WORRY ABOUT IT DB! I'll just have to cross that off and announce I'm making a couple of dollars more than you and she'll never know a thing!”
Later on Bob was the Drum Major of the 2nd MarDiv Band. They were rehearsing for a major parade and a “staff Colonel” kept throwing new “ideas” in how to do it and at the Band, and Bob in particular. Finally, he did it one too many times! He had turned away and was marching back to the review stand when Bob threw the Mace, like a spear, into the ground and marched away across the parade field leaving it quivering in the ground in front of the band. The Colonel noticed this and began to call at Bob, “MSgt COME HER NOW!” Bob kept right on walking away muttering to himself when up pulled the Div CG's staff car and the CG gets out. MajGen “Big Joe” Fegan, who had been our Brks CO while Bob was a GySgt and knew Bob very well as they always kidded each other back then. Bob saluted “Big Joe” and Big Joe asked him where he was going and what the “obvious” problem was. Bob told him his “idiot staff Colonel wants to be Drum Major so I left the Mace for him!” Bob continued on his way, the CG advised “the Colonel” to have the senior Bandsman assume the Drum Major's position for the rehearsal and to leave him alone and let him do his job. End of problem and next day MSgt Wrenn was Drum Major leading the parade as usual!
Submitted by David "DB" Wright, Drum & Bugle Corps and Band, 1965-74 / USMC 1959-74, Vietnam veteran, Las Vegas, NV
A few of you who served with me at the Barracks in DC will remember my Studebaker Daytona. I loved that car. I had just finished washing and waxing it in preparation for the drive up to Chicago from where my dad was staying with my Aunt to my mom's home in Chicago. Then I drove to the Marine Barracks, Wash, DC to report in for duty in early January of 65 for duty with the US Marine Drum & Bugle Corps! Great car, great days!
BILL DURAND'S MEMORIES OF C. ROBERT CAWLEY, D & B CORPS, 1961-1963
My friend C. Robert Cawley passed 17 February 2001 at home in Barto, PA after
a long battle with Amoytrophic Lateral Sclerosis, (Lou Gehrig's Disease.) He served
at 8th & I in The Commandant's Own from 1961 to 1963. I am not sure if I have
a period photograph of Bob as he was our unofficial photographer. All my pictures
of those days were taken by him. I have a Drum Corps Alumni Picnic picture.
Bob is sitting on the ground with a blue shirt. I am kneeling
at his immediate left. He was a excellent Soprano bugle player
who played in the first soprano section. He weekly pulled
duty music with the Barracks Guard Unit. A talented graphic
artist he often painted souvenir Drum heads for Drum Corps
Bob took this photo of Commandant Shoup presenting at the Barracks sponsored Boy Scout Troop. Bob was a fine Marine who we lost way too soon. I still miss
Submitted by R. William "Old Dog" Durand, Drum & Bugle Corps, 1962-1963, Rochester, NY
B Company 1985
11-14-16 ... LATE 1960'S MEMORIES OF MARIO SILVESTRINI, DRUM & BUGLE CORPS, 1956-60 & 1962-69 / USMC 1955-79, JEFFERSONVILLE, PA
When I checked into the Marine Barracks in DC the beginning of January of 1965 I was single so I lived in the Drum & Bugle Corps 2 Squad Bays on the South end of the barracks. I was in the rear most, lower one as you had to come down 3 steps onto a landing and then another down onto the main deck of that squad bay. There were 3 NCO's; Sgt Mario Silvestrini (senior NCO), Sgt Deion Green and myself a senior Cpl on my 2nd hitch. The Sgt's had the rear area and I had the lower rack of the cubicle closest to their area. Instantly Mario (his nickname in the Corps and at the Bks then was “Silver”) and I hit it off and began to hang out together on liberty after hours. Not long before I transferred to the US Marine Band at the Barracks Mario was transferred to Recruiting Duty (an assignment that hand picks only outstanding Marines back in those days) as were several other of our Staff NCO's (Mario was by then a SSgt and I a couple of years later also a SSgt) were also transferred to this duty. Every one of them were promoted to E8, most to Master Sergeant to remain in the music field, but Mario was promoted to First Sergeant. His last tour of duty before retiring was as 1stSgt of the Marine Barracks Annapolis Naval Academy, another one of those assignments that Marines are carefully screened for appearance, intelligence and overall being an outstanding representative of our Marine Corps to those Academy MidShipmen. A number, of the many MidShipmen who apply each graduation year to be a Marine Officer, are selected with many making this decision by their daily being exposed to the Marines of that Barracks and Marine Officers who are Instructors in their many classes.
So now you know that part about how I came to know and serve with my Buddy Mario. After he retired to Atlantic City (he is originally from the Philly area and is now living back there since the casino's closed down and he retired for a 2nd time) where he worked his way through a number of jobs from dealing up into the Security Assignment mentioned below. He was also the most active member of the Marine Corps League unit in Atlantic City. Every time any Marine needed a ride to the VA for an appointment, help at the VA, or simply to have someone shop for them as they couldn't do it for themselves, Mario either was the Marine who did it, or he organized another Marine to take care of their brother's need. Just quietly taking care of others as he did throughout his active duty time in our Corps, a Marine who has lived every day of his life, since first taking the oath to join our beloved Corps, with SEMPER FIDELIS being his compass to chart his course of life every day!
With all the negative PR still on going about President-Elect Donald Trump when I saw this come through, from another Marine contact, and the subject of this Trump story being my old buddy Mario, I thought I'd share it with you. I believe it shows the unvarnished, everyday kind of guy President-Elect Trump really was and how he views people. No cameras, no PR people, just remembering a guy he took the time to meet and remember!
Here's the short email I received from my Marine Buddy about “Silver!” DBW#86
Photo is of Mario J. Silvestrini, (USMC - Ret.). Sergeant Silvestrini was a First Sergeant in the USMC and was on the Private security detail in the Taj Mahal Casino in AC for 12 years. The Photo he is holding is of he and Melania Trump, just married. When Mr. Trump would come through the Casino... he would say: "There's my Marine... How are you, Mario?
Submitted by David "DB" Wright, Drum & Bugle Corps and Band, 1965-74 / USMC 1959-74, Vietnam veteran, Las Vegas, NV
5-7-17 ... Sgt Roy Zanni, US Marine Drum & Bugle Corps, “The Commandant's Own," 1966-1968, San Diego, CA, performing Taps at Fallen Police Officers Memorial Ceremony for San Diego County and City Officers.
The Volunteers of the San Diego County Sheriff's Office Honor Guard are behind Sgt Zanni. Please visit, http://www.buglesacrossamerica.org/
On the same day aboard the USS Midway he sounded Taps for the “F-8 Crusader Association” in remembrance of their members who have passed on, sadly, a list that now has 70 names on it.
Submitted by David "DB" Wright, Drum & Bugle Corps and Band, 1965-74 / USMC 1959-74, Vietnam veteran, Las Vegas, NV
1988 Parade Program
Anyone having additional submissions for this page should send them
to: webmaster @ 8thandI.com
Copyright - All Rights Reserved - ©
8th & I Reunion Association
Design and Layout
by BT Productions