Photo Information

Staff Sgt. Alexandra Perkins leads the U.S. Marine Drum and Bugle Corps from Marine Barracks Washington, D.C., during the "Starlight Parade" at the State Fair of Texas in Dallas, Oct. 7. Perkins is the first female to lead the Drum and Bugle Corps from a Drum Major position.

Photo by Sgt. John J. Parry

U.S. Marine Drum and Bugle Corps performs at the State Fair of Texas

13 Oct 2008 | Sgt. John J. Parry

The U.S. Marine Drum and Bugle Corps,"The Commandant's Own," performed at the State Fair of Texas from Sept. 25 through Oct. 13.

Getting from Washington to Texas proved challenging, as several planes broke down just prior to the Marines boarding them, causing the Drum and Bugle Corps to miss the first opening-day Texas State Fair parade since the unit began participating in the event in 1961.

However, "The Commandant's Own" overcame all obstacles, and showed up in time to participate in the fair's opening ceremonies. Shortly after landing in Dallas, they marched to the fairground's Marine Corps Square, a rectangular patch of land surrounded on three sides by bleachers, where they opened the engagement with an electrifying performance.

Allyson Kettler, a 29-year-old Air Force veteran and Dallas native, commented "I've been coming here for a few years now, and this was the best show I've seen -- from the drums to the bugles, they put together a great show, with really beautiful music!"

Texas Governor Rick Perry, a guest speaker at the ceremony, stopped by before his speech to greet the Marines, shake their hands, and express his appreciation for their service to America, as well as compliment them on their annual performances at the Texas State Fair.

During the fair, the Marines maintained a three-performance-a-day routine, including hour-long concerts at Marine Corps Square followed by evening retreats and finally bringing the day to a close by leading the "Starlight Parade," a parade of lights and music around the Cotton Bowl, located in the center of the fair grounds.

During the course of the Lone Star State's annual fair, the biggest state fair in the country, the Marine Drum and Bugle Corps entertained several thousand people with stirring renditions of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" and the "Marines Hymn."

At Marine Corps Square, the Marine Drum and Bugle Corps performed many popular works from years past, such as "God Bless the U.S.A." by Lee Greenwood, and the immortal "Stars and Stripes Forever" by John Phillip Sousa, entertaining audiences ranging from a few hundred to several thousand people.

Marine Drum and Bugle Corps introduced several new pieces into their lineup this trip, including The Green Hornet's theme a.k.a. "Flight of the Bumble Bee," written by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and arranged for the unit by xylophone player Cpl. Brian Drought, among many others.

"I was looking for something fun and challenging for our percussion section," Drought said. "I feel liked it was well-received. The audience wasn't sure what the song was at first, but they soon recognized it, and were laughing and applauding by the time we finished it."

According to Gary Dement, a 58-year-old from Mangum, Okla., the new selections were great and kept the show fresh and entertaining. The crowd especially enjoyed "Ellis Island," a tuneful medley of American folk tunes.

At the end of each day, the Marines retired the colors during the evening retreat ceremony. With the help of artillery from the 14th Marine Regiment

out of Fort Worth, Texas, the Marines played the national anthem while the flags of both Texas and the United States were lowered as the sun set.

"I've been coming to see these men for as long as they've been performing here," Dement summed up. "In fact, I actually come to the fair mainly to see them perform, and I never leave disappointed!"

"Their performance was really inspiring," said young Jake Fuller, a 17-year-old native of Denton, Texas. "It gave me goose bumps, and has made me consider joining the Corps."

Jake, maybe in a few years, we'll be seeing YOU at the Texas State Fair -- not in the audience, but as a proud member of the U.S. Marine Drum and Bugle Corps!