Washington, D.C. --
The first Roman emperor, Augustus Caesar, implemented an organization of elite guards in the city of Rome, the Praetorian Guards. These guards were hand selected by the emperor. They were the only military force allowed in the city, and held a much more important position than other soldiers. They served as imperial and palace guards, as well as police and riot control for the city.
Much like their ancient Roman counterparts, Barracks guards are hand picked to guard several senior officials of the Corps, including the commandant and assistant commandant of the Marine Corps.
These Marines hail from across the U.S. with varying personal stories and hobbies, but their exclusive mission knits them together. Among this unique company of Marines, are two young men who share an unbreakable bond - Lance Cpl. Shawn Brown and Lance Cpl. James Gigliello. Their brotherly bond is one that has been born out of endurance and their journey reflects the majority of their fellow guard Marines. Together the pair has endured the Corps’ recruit training and School of Infantry and pushed through the Marine Corps’ demanding Basic Security Guard School in Chesapeake, Va.
Their arrival to the Barracks in southeast Washington represented the culmination of more than 25 weeks of intense training, but not the end of their journey. Upon their arrival, they faced three additional weeks of training at the Barrack’s Guard Academy to prepare them for the unique duties of the post.
"We’ve been side by side since boot camp, SOI and Security Guard School, so we were looking forward to coming to the Barracks," Gigliello said. "We were also looking forward to taking the next step in our Marine Corps careers and using all the skills we had gained from our training."
The location of the Barracks presents a set of challenges that are almost unprecedented throughout the rest of the Corps. Having been built more than 200 years ago, the city of Washington was constructed around the Barracks, leaving little buffer between the two. This fine line of delineation uniquely positions Barracks guards as both frontline ambassadors and its first line of defense.
"The Marines that man the posts here at the Barracks have a demanding job," said Maj. Brent Hampton, Guard Company commander. "They need to be able to be cordial and greet visitors with a smile while at the same time being vigilant and retaining the ability to eliminate a would-be threat. They have to be ready for anything. This requires them to rely on each other and maintain this delicate balance at all times, seven days a week, 365 days a year."
This interdependence closely mirrors Brown and Gigliello’s relationship and the relationships of many others in the company and often extends beyond just their time on post. Brown and Gigliello serve in the same squad, sleep in the same room and spend much of their off time together.
"We spend so much time together now, it’s like we’re brothers. " Gigliello said. "You build a bond any time you spend hundreds of hours with somebody like I have with Brown. Pretty much every Marine in our platoon has that bond with each other."
In addition to protecting the Barracks' physical structures and the Marines they house, guard Marines also protect the integrity of the Barracks' high standards by helping maintain good order and discipline through the enforcement of the regulations of the Barracks commander.
"The Marines who stand post every day have a tremendous amount of responsibility and greatly contribute to maintaining the high standards of the Barracks," said Sgt. Maj. Eric Stockton, Barracks sergeant major. "They not only help enforce that high standard, they look and act the part as well, setting the example for others to emulate."
This squared away mentality is a prerequisite in the screening and training process for the company's secondary mission of providing Marines for potential follow-on presidential support duties.
"The primary mission of Guard Co. is the security of government property, the protection of personnel and the enforcement of regulations," Hampton said. "But we also have a secondary mission of screening, evaluating and training Marines for potential duties supporting the president. It's a mission that we take very seriously. Discipline, focus and commitment are the common threads that hold the company together and allow us to accomplish both missions simultaneously."
Like the ancient Praetorian Guards, Guard Co. Marines will continue to guard these hallowed grounds, preserving order, enforcing regulations, and protecting property.