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'The Commandant’s Own' Shows Off Music, Precision at Yuma Air Show

By Lance Cpl. Reba James | | March 20, 2013

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. - The U.S. Marine Corps Drum and Bugle Corps, also referred to as “The Commandant’s Own,” performed at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma’s 51st Annual Air Show and Open House, March 9.

Marching down the air station’s flight line, the U.S. Marine Drum and Bugle Corps performed at the opening ceremonies to show their support to the surrounding Yuma community and honor local area veterans in attendance.

Since forming in 1934 to augment the United States Marine Corps Band, the Drum and Bugle Corps provided musical support to both military and public ceremonies. The title of “The Commandant’s Own” was given to denote the unique status as musicians for the commandant of the Marine Corps.

Comprised of over 85 Marine musicians, the Drum and Bugle Corps performs a variety of music for spectators each year while on tour. Dressed in ceremonial red and white uniforms, they are known as the premier marching unit within the Marine Corps. Traveling more than 50,000 miles annually, they perform in more than 500 events across the nation and abroad.

“Every year we would perform at the air show, but this is the first time we have played since about five years ago,” said Gunnery Sgt. Keith Martinez, a drum major in the U.S. Marine Drum and Bugle Corps. “We always leave, but this is a way to give back to the air station.”

Performing throughout the nation on a west coast tour and east coast tour annually as well as their travels abroad, the Drum and Bugle Corps uses the time at MCAS Yuma to train and practice.

“We are here for about 25 days in February,” said Martinez. “This is like spring training to us.”

The performance, which marked the end of their stay at MCAS Yuma, was one of the events that honored and recognized the Korean and Vietnam War Veterans during the air show.

Performing at the opening of the airshow, the Marine Corps Drum and Bugle Corps played various selections and ended with the National Anthem. MCAS Yuma was the first stop in their west coast tour this year.

“Our audience has a lot of veterans. My favorite memory of a past performance is when we did a ceremony indoors and a really old man in a wheelchair sat in the audience with fellow veterans,” said Sgt. Tyler Anthony, mellophone player in the U.S. Marine Drum and Bugle Corps and a native of Stillwater, Minn. “While we played the Marines Hymn, he wanted to stand so his fellow veterans lifted him up while we played. It brought tears to my eyes.”

Each performance brings motivation and inspiration to the crowd, but the audience and environment is ever changing with each stop of their tour.

“We get to see the patriotism and there’s always a good crowd,” said Martinez.

For many of the Marine musicians of the Drum and Bugle Corps, the event marked their first performance at the MCAS Yuma air show.

“Most of them have never done it, so it’s exciting for them,” said Martinez.

From the continental U.S., to Japan and Guam, there are new experiences with each stop. For both the members of the Marine Corps Drum and Bugle Corps and those in attendance, the performance is an unforgettable experience.

The Drum and Bugle Corps has played all over the world, bringing communities together. It is a unique organization, which increases morale for Marines, active and retired, and inspires those who witness the display of pageantry and precision at each performance.

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