Fort Henry Guard performs in Nation's Capitol

4 Aug 2004 | Gunnery Sgt. Kent P. Flora

The Capital has once again invaded by “Redcoats”, but this time the Marines here were ready.  However, this recent invasion was by bus and not by horse; and the invaders were not from Great Britain, but instead were the members of the Fort Henry Guard from Ontario, Canada.

Through musket fire and the melodic sounds of the fife and drum corps, the Fort Henry Guard performance, which highlighted the July 30 Evening Performance, marked the 50th Anniversary of the friendship established between the FHG and Barracks in 1954.

The first meeting of the two on August 18, in recognition of the Ogdensburg Agreement (an establishment of defense for the northern half of the western hemisphere) signed 14 years before in 1940, saw members of “The Oldest Post of the Corps” shaking hands across the world’s largest undefended border with members of one of Canada’s oldest forts.

“We were excited to have the Guard back at the Oldest Post on the 50th Anniversary of our relationship and for the first time in 10 years,” said Colonel Daniel P. O’Brien, Commanding Officer, Marine Barracks Washington.   “They added an interesting and colorful twist to our Evening Parade with their music, drill and tactics demonstration. It was
also great to see how excited the individual Guardsmen were to be able to participate in a ceremony here in Washington.”      
During their visit, the members of the FHG performed during the evening parade, played a friendly game of basketball, took in the historic sites that surround the Nation’s Capital and shared an evening of camaraderie with their Marine counterparts.

“The FHG members were excited about being here, for most it was their first time to see the Barracks and Washington,” said Gunnery Sgt. Brian Eden, Company Gunnery Sgt for Headquarters and Service Company.  “They seem to enjoy the interaction with the Marines and it gave them a chance to see a little of our history and for us to see theirs too.” The FHG reenacted battle formations and techniques during their performance and Eden said it was a sight to see.

“When they crossed over Centerwalk and started firing, and kept it constant, it was impressive.  Back in the day, you’d definitely not want to be on the receiving end of that barrage,” said Eden.

To further commemorate the Golden Anniversary, members of the Fort Henry Guard and United States Marine Corps, are scheduled to gather on August 18 at the International Border on Wellesley Island for a brief ceremony and photo opportunity to reenact the 1954 cross-border, historic handshake which took place between FHG Captain Douglas
H. Thompson and USMC Brigadier General S.K. Bird.

That evening, the Fort Henry Guard pays tribute to the 50-year-old relationship between the Guard and the Corps at the evening "Sunset Ceremony" performance.

On August 19, a special ribbon cutting ceremony will be held to officially open the 50th Anniversary FHG/USMC Museum Exhibit on the balcony level at Fort Henry. The exhibit will feature items presented to Fort Henry by the United States Marine Corps, as well as a photo chronology of 50 years of friendship and performance partnership.

“With the signing of the Ogdensburg Agreement in 1940 the United States and Canada established one of the world's unique defense partnerships which continues to this day,” said Major Brent Harrison, Commander of the Marine Battle Color Detachment, which will travel to Canada to perform.  “Since 1954, Marine Barracks and the Fort Henry Guard have gotten together annually to celebrate a friendship between nations that has endured.  This significant
exchange will continue to build upon this friendship with our northern neighbors and create memories for our Marines that will last for many years to come.”