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US Marine Drum and Bugle Corps with President George W. Bush (France, 2001)

The United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corps (D&B) is the Drum and Bugle Corps of the United States Marine Corps. It is now the only full time active duty Drum Corps in the US Military. It is one of the United States military marching units and consists of 80 Marine musicians, dressed in ceremonial red and white uniforms. It performs martial and popular music.

The Drum and Bugle Corps has been official designated as The Commandant's Own because of its connection to the Commandant of the Marine Corps. It is separate from its sister United States Marine Band ("The President's Own") and the 12 active duty Marine Corps field bands. The Drum and Bugle Corps travels more than 50,000 miles (80,000 km) annually, performing in excess of 400 events across the United States and abroad.

During the summer months the unit performs (with the Marine Band) in the traditional Friday Evening Parades at the Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C. and in the Sunset Parades at the Marine Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima Monument) near Arlington, Virginia every Tuesday evening. The parades are not street parades, but military ceremonies that are symbolic of Marine professionalism, discipline, and esprit de corps.

Lieutenant Colonel Brent A. Harrison is the fourth and current commanding officer of the Drum and Bugle Corps, serving since September 15, 1998. The fourth and current director is Chief Warrant Officer-4 Brian Dix, also since September 1998. Master Sergeant Kevin D. Buckles is the twenty-first and current Drum Major. Gunnery 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 Marine Drum and Bugle Corps was formed in 1934, at historic Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C., to augment the United States Marine Band. 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 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 impact on the band comparable to that of John Phillips Sousa on the 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 Marine Band, prior to enlisting each potential Drum and Bugle Corps member must pass a competitive audition. Unlike Marine Band members, however, 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 as it serves under the Commandant's immediate command.

Uniforms and instruments

The field musicians of the Marine Drum and Bugle Corps wear white gauntlets which cover the wrists and bear and play silver color brass section instruments (in contrast to musicians of the Marine Band, whose wrists are not covered and who bear and play gold-colored brass section instruments).

The brass played by the "Commandant's Own" are in fact drum corps bugles pitched in the G major (the Key of G), as all drum corps brass was prior to 2000. Additionally, their bugles are two-valved models similar to those used by drum corps in the United States and Canada prior to 1990. Their current inventory of brass instrumentation was manufactured by the Kanstul Musical Instruments company in 2006.


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