Marine Company retires guidon at United States Naval Academy to enter Operating Forces

15 Jan 2006 | Cpl. Aaron K. Clark

The early morning mist of Sunday was the backdrop that marked the end to a military tradition that has lasted more than a century and a half.

No fanfare, no streamers, no bands playing, no formations; simply two Marines and two sailors transferring duties-closing the chapter of Marines guarding the gates of the United States Naval Academy.

The two Marines who stood the last watch at the gates of the Naval Academy gave comments during a press conference held aboard the Naval Academy Jan. 12.

Lance Corporals Edward Voumard, 20, and Kyle Boeser, 22, both of Edwardsville, Ill., talked about what their responsibilities would be.

"Basically it will just be another shift, except that instead of doing changing of the guard with other Marines, sailors will be the ones who take the next shift," said Voumard.

"Although I will always remember this, I am looking forward to getting to the operating forces, so I can get a taste of the fleet," said Boeser. "But this event is definitely something I will tell more than just my children about."

The culture of the U.S. Marines Corps is deeply rooted in naval traditions and heritage. The Marine Corps commemorated those traditions Jan. 13, during a disestablishment ceremony, when Marines of the "Oldest Post" officially handed over the responsibility of guarding the gates of the Naval Academy back to their sister service, the U.S. Navy.

Marines have a long history of serving aboard and guarding naval vessels and installations, and began to provide security to the Naval Academy and Naval Station Annapolis, Md., only six years after the Academy was founded.

Since 1851, the organizational structure of the Marines that guard the Academy had been shifted around and reorganized until they took their present form as U.S.N.A. Company, Marine Barracks Washington, on Feb. 19, 1994.

Before September 11th 2001, Marines not only performed sentry duties at the gates, but were also charged with ceremonial functions such as standing watch at the crypt of John Paul, the Naval Academy Museum, performing color ceremonies and  participating in funerals. But after September 11, the ceremonial functions of the Marines were reduced so Marines could focus completely on providing security for the academy gates as their main mission.

The company was disestablished as part of the Fleet Assistance Program, a Headquarters Marine Corps directive that supplies the operating forces with more Marines from the infantry and military police military occupational specialties.

The security of the Naval Academy facilities and personnel will remain a "top priority" said Cmdr. Thomas McKavitt, a spokesperson for Naval District Washington. 

"Naval security personnel from NDW assumed responsibility for providing the same level of security provided by the Marine Company to the Naval Academy and Naval Station Annapolis," he said.

Although Marines no longer watch the gates of the United States Naval Academy, the institution will still produce officers for both the Navy and Marine Corps. As always, naval traditions will still remain a huge part of the Marine culture aboard one of the oldest military educational institutions.

"There has been a very visible presence here and there will still be Marines at the Naval Academy, but they will not be guarding the gates anymore," McKavitt said referring to the Marines who fill roles as instructors at the Naval Academy.

"The Marines always had a crisp salute and a ready smile and they are going to be missed," said Vice Admiral Rodney P. Rempt, superintendent of the United States Naval Academy.