ATLANTA -- The U.S. Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon performed during the halftime show at the 2007 NCAA men's basketball championship game in Atlanta's Georgia Dome, April 2.
More than 20,000 fans watched the Silent Drill Platoon take center court for a 10-minute performance after the Florida Gators and Ohio State Buckeyes had left for the locker rooms with a Florida lead, 40-29.
"This was the first time we've worked a college basketball game, let alone a national championship," said Cpl. Michael T. Morales, SDP, inspection team. "Everything went smooth and it was great how we grabbed the crowd's attention right away."
While the teams rested before the beginning of the second half, it was the platoon's job to keep the audience entertained. From the moment the announcer introduced the Silent Drill Platoon, the audience cheered the Marines' performance.
Part of the platoon's drill sequence is the "Thunder Dome," a circular formation with rifle and fixed bayonets facing the crowd.
"When we formed the 'Thunder Dome,' the crowd went nuts," Morales said. "Normally during halftime the crowd uses the time to get snacks, but it was like nobody left the stands, and they were all cheering."
At the climax of the performance, the platoon completed its inspection sequence flawlessly, and the audience rose to their feet and let out a deafening roar.
"It let the Marines know how much they're appreciated," said Staff Sgt. Christopher D. Thomas, MBW, Company A, 2nd platoon, platoon sergeant. "The crowd came here to root for the Gators or the Buckeyes, but when the Silent Drill platoon came out, everybody was pulling for the same team-the Marines."
The crowd's reaction only intensified, as the Marines left the court to chants of "U. S. A." booming through out the stadium.
After the performance, the Florida Gators showed its "Esprit de Corps" by winning its second consecutive NCAA men's basketball championship, 84-75. Even though the Gators won the 2007 championship trophy, it was the Marines of the Silent Drill Platoon who won the crowd's hearts.