The United States Marine Drum & Bugle Corps is the drum and bugle corps of the United States Marine Corps. The D&B is now the only full-time active duty drum corps in the United States Armed Forces. As one of many United States military bands, the United States Marine Drum & Bugle Corps consists of 80 active-duty Marines dressed in ceremonial red and white uniforms. The D&B performs martial and popular music.
The United States Marine Drum & Bugle Corps has been officially designated as "The Commandant's Own" because of its historical connection with the Commandant of the Marine Corps. The D&B is entirely separate from its sister military band, the United States Marine Band ("The President's Own") as well as the 12 active-duty United States Marine Corps field bands. The United States Marine Drum & Bugle Corps travels more than 50,000 miles (80,000 km) annually, performing in excess of 400 events across the United States and around the world.
During the summer months, the D&B performs in conjunction with "The President's Own" in the traditional Friday Evening Parades at the Marine Barracks Washington and in the Sunset Parades at the Marine Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima Monument) in Arlington, Virginia, every Tuesday evening. The parades are not street parades, but military parades consisting of ceremonial pomp that are symbolic of Marine professionalism, discipline, and esprit de corps.
Major Brian Dix is the fourth and current Director of "The Commandant's Own" The United States Drum & Bugle Corps serving in this position since 1998. He also serves as the current commanding officer since 2010. Master Gunnery Sergeant Kevin D. Buckles is the twenty-first and current Drum Major. Master Sergeant Keith G. Martinez is the current Assistant Drum Major.
The history of the unit can be traced to the early days of the Marine Corps. In the 18th and 19th centuries, military musicians ("field musics") provided a means of passing commands to Marines in battle. The sound of various drum beats and bugle calls that could be heard over the noise of the battlefield signaled Marines to attack the enemy or retreat. Through the 1930s, Marine Corps posts still authorized a number of buglers and drummers to play the traditional calls and to ring a ship's bell to signal the time.
"The Commandant's Own" The United States Marine Drum & Bugle Corps was formed in 1934 at historic Marine Barracks Washington, to augment the United States Marine Band "The President's Own". The unit provided musical support to ceremonies around the nation's capital and, during World War II, was additionally tasked with presidential support duties. For this additional role, they were awarded the scarlet and gold breast cord by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, which remains on the uniform. When the war ended, the United States Drum and Bugle Corps resumed performing at various military and public ceremonies.
In the early 1950s, the unit gained considerable acclaim performing for an increasing number of civilian audiences. Originally their instrumentation was similar to the other drum and bugle corps of the era. It has evolved along with civilian corps, although usually adapting trends after they have become established by civilian corps. Music composed specifically for their unique selection of instruments helped establish their reputation for excellence during this period. These factors also led to the unit's formal designation as "The Commandant's Own," a title noting their special status as musicians for the Commandant of the Marine Corps.
In 1968, Truman Crawford, formerly of the United States Air Force Drum and Bugle Corps became musical arranger and instructor for The Commandant's Own. During his 30-year career he had a large impact on the D&B comparable to that of John Phillip Sousa on the United States Marine Band. The new rehearsal facility of "The Commandant's Own" at Marine Barracks Washington, is named Truman Crawford Hall in his honor.
Like the United States Marine Band, prior to enlisting each potential member of the Drum and Bugle Corps, all must pass a competitive audition. Unlike members of the President's Own, Drum and Bugle Corps members do undergo Marine Corps Recruit Training, where they are trained in basic infantry tactics.
Following Recruit Training and Marine Combat Training, Drum and Bugle Corps members proceed directly to "The Commandant's Own" and do not attend Military Occupational Specialty training. The United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corps does not march in parades of state, but instead is held back in reserve by the Commandant of the Marine Corps who may order it anywhere since the band serves under the Commandant's immediate command.
Uniforms and instruments
The field musicians of the United States Marine Drum & Bugle Corps wear white gauntlets which cover the wrists and bear and play silver color brass instruments.
The brass played by "The Commandant's Own" are bugles pitched in G. Additionally, their bugles are two-valved models similar to those used by drum corps in the United States and Canada prior to 1990. The D&B's current inventory of brass instrumentation was manufactured by the Kanstul Musical Instruments company in 2006.
- A History of Drum & Bugle Corps, Vol. 2; Steve Vickers, ed.; Drum Corps World, pub.; 2003
- Photos of performance at the Sunset Parade at Iwo Jima Memorial
- Drum Corps World
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