The history of the unit can be traced to the early days of the Marine Corps. In the 18th and 19th centuries military musicians, or “field musics,” provided a means of passing commands to Marines in battle formations. The sound of various drum beats and bugle calls could be easily heard over the noise of the battlefield and signaled Marines to attack the enemy or retire for the evening. Through the 1930’s, Marine Corps posts were 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 United States Marine Drum & Bugle Corps was formed in 1934 to augment the United States Marine Band. The unit provided musical support to ceremonies around the nation’s capitol and, during World War II, was tasked with Presidential support duties. For this additional role, they were awarded the scarlet and gold breast cord by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, which they still proudly display on their uniform.
When the war ended, the Drum & 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. 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 unique status as musicians for the Commandant of the Marine Corps.
In the tradition of their “field music” predecessors, these musicians in “The Commandant’s Own” are Marines in the truest sense of the word. Every enlisted member is a graduate of Marine Corps recruit training and is trained in basic infantry skills. Prior to enlisting, each Marine must pass a demanding audition for service in the Drum & Bugle Corps. Following Recruit Training and Marine Combat Training, the Marines are assigned to “The Commandant’s Own.”
The unit travels the world along with the United States Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon and the Official Color Guard of the Marine Corps as the United States Marine Corps Battle Color Detachment.
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