T Nation

Marine Corps Drill Team: Thoughts?

To my military (especially Marine Corps) friends:

Active Duty Combat pilots show sort of an “indifference” to their respective Demonstration Teams (the “Thunderbirds” for the Air Force and “The Blue Angels” in the Navy. EVEN THOUGH these guys are fully qualified, combat pilots, their colleagues tend to whisper “pretty boys”.)

My question is about the Marine Corps Drill Team (that is now showing pretty prominently on TV and other recruiting films and posters).

They are pretty slick to me!

But how does the average “in-the-dirt” grunt view them?

Is it just a brief rotation?

How are they picked?

As always; THANKS!


I’ve always had the greatest respect for the Silent Drill Team. They are assigned to Marine Barracks at 8th & I in Washington, the oldest active post in the Marine Corps. Here’s some additional info:


My dad used to take us to see them whenever they were in town. Dad is a retired gysgt. He holds them in high regard.

They are pretty amazing to watch.

These guys seem like the “Real Deal”…

Not only do they do a 2 year Tour of Duty…during that time they are still doing full-time Infantry Training.

“In the Marines, everyone-sergeant, mechanic, cannoneer, supply man, clerk, aviator, cook-is a rifleman first. All speak the language of the rifle and bayonet, of muddy boots and long, hot marches. It’s never us and them, only us. That is the secret of the Corps.”

Col. Daniel F. Bolger


Not a Marine but… Even though they have an important job they will get looked down upon because they will never deploy in a combat zone. If you’ve done a combat tour and then do the drill team, no one will give you shit. It’s just the way it is.

Well, I’m not an average “in the dirt” grunt - In fact, I’m a designated USMC Student Naval Aviator, so I am pretty far removed from that lifestyle or at least will be once I finish TBS. But I am incredibly impressed with the discipline and skill it takes to drill at that level.

By the way; Thanks for the link, LT!


According to the link, this is only a 2 year Tour, where they are still getting Infantry Training. The odds are that many of them will (or have) most likely seen combat.



“The Great Santini”, huh?

What’s with the sort of “indifference” active Combat pilots have with the Aerial Demonstration Teams? (In your case “The Blue Angels”).

I saw this “they are pretty boys” attitude when some Pilots spoke to a group of us. One pilot commented that “You can teach a monkey to fly on somebodies wing”. (Ummmm…it doesn’t seem that easy to me!)



Indeed. As an aspiring 18 pilot, I have nothing but respect for the Blues, from what I have seen they are all referred to as “good-sticks,” certainly a compliment in the fixed-wing community. The reason they receive criticism is because little, if any, of their demonstration maneuvers are useful in combat.

Honestly, I think it more of a jealously thing because of the amount of publicity they receive.

Well back when I was working for the government the Blue Angels did fly over restricted air space towards the White House which put us on alert… I don’t even how we would have justified shooting one of them down if they hadn’t corrected their course.

Whenever I dealt with the Marines the only people they seemed to look down on were the MP’s. They generally had a stick up their asses though.

I can’t say for sure though as I’ve only had the pleasure of working side by side with them and never in the Corps.

I bounced at a bar with a few that were stationed at 8th and I. It’s more than just drill team that is stationed there I don’t know it all but here is what I do know:

Silent Drill team - Intense, I was told the 3rd hardest school in the Marine Corps and the persona relaying this information to me was previously a scout sniper prior to being reassigned. Only knew him.

Parades - These guys primarily do parades and standing in the background holding the flags…etc Typically these guys are tall, most of the guys I worked with were parade guys. 6’1" - 6’6" was the ranges, I’m remember when I first started wondering why the hell all the other bouncers were NBA sized.

Funerals - Like it states, these are the casket bearers typically these guys are wide, I met a few but didn’t work with any.

If you remember that commercial where they have the Marine rock climbing, he was stationed at 8th and I also. From what I was told they are chosen for height and fitness scores. Typically it’s a 2 year rotation then back out to the fleet.

A guy that I went to my A school with back in the Nav came from the Navy drill team. I remember he told me they had to be a certain height, physically fit (not fat), and had to have a clear complexion. Kinda the all American look. Obviously physical appearance down to skin was very important for this highly visible role.


I had a squad leader as a boot who came from the silent drill team. He caught a lot of shit from the salty Marines because he was in a leadership role, but didn’t know shit about how things work in the grunts.

Most of it was good natured ribbing though. He was a good Marine. The “infantry training” they do, from what I heard from him, is not too much like the real thing.

They do have to be a certain height, looks like stated above and also get a pretty thorough security clearing. And have to be able to drill like a motherfucker haha.