Photo Information

Cpl. Oscar Franquez Jr. and Lance Cpl. Michael Madulka, members of the Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon inspection team, warm up before a performance at Marine Week 2011 in St. Louis June 25. The platoon traveled to St. Louis to perform two shows, one under the Gateway Arch and another during the closing ceremonies for Marine Week.

Photo by Cpl. Jeremy Ware

Don't rain on my parade

25 Jun 2011 | Cpl. Jeremy Ware

St. Louis — A torrential downpour flooded central Missouri, and slowly crept its way across the state toward the Gateway Arch in downtown St. Louis, as Lance Cpl. Jason Wynn donned his ceremonial dress blue white uniform in preparation for the most important show of his career.

Wynn, a ceremonial marcher with the US Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon, was set to perform along with the rest of his 24-man platoon during Marine Week 2011 under the historic Arch in Wynn’s hometown, but a nasty thunderstorm threatened to end the show.

“I never want a show to get canceled, but St. Louis is my home, my mom was there with my family, so I was praying that the rain would hold off,” said Wynn.

The Mehlville High School graduate nervously mashed buttons on his cell phone as he checked the evening’s weather report before making his way outside for preshow warm-ups.

The platoon got into formation in a city park that stood at the doorsteps of the famous city courthouse. After running through the performances sequence, the Marines were ready to perform and began the half-mile walk to the arch. Wynn looked up at the cloud littered sky every chance he got, hoping the storm would wait long enough for the platoon to perform for his hometown.

The forecast looked bleak that night, lightning storms, high wind and up to five inches of rain were predicted to pummel the Arch area when the platoon was scheduled to perform.

“The Arch is St. Louis. The opportunity to march there during Marine Week, words can’t express how special that is,” said the 21 year old Wynn.

With show time quickly approaching, the platoon staged near the Arch. Wynn got into line and took another peak at the heavens. Directly over the performing area, white clouds peppered the sky.

“Off in the distance I could see dark, nasty looking rain clouds slowly rolling our way,” Wynn recalled. “I was pretty confident we were going to perform, but I’ve been wrong before.”

Around the same time, Wynn’s mother, along with his family and recruiter, staked their claim to the best seats they could find among the tens of thousands of spectators there to see the show, and waited in palpable anticipation of watching their hometown hero.

As show time arrived, Wynn and his platoon waited under the famous 630-foot-tall Gateway Arch. Just before marching out to perform, Wynn took one more look toward the sky and saw his prayers answered.

The storm didn’t make it in time to spoil the performance. In front of thousands of spectators the SDP performed what Capt. Brian Wilson, the SDP platoon commander, would later call one of the best performances of the year.

Wynn and the rest of the SDP concluded their performance to an explosion of applause from an electrified crowd. For Mrs. Wynn, seeing her son perform in their hometown validated his decision to join the Marine Corps.

“I am so very proud of him! He has accomplished so much since he has been in the Corps,” Mrs. Wynn exclaimed. “Seeing him the way he was before compared to the way he is now, I know joining the Marines was probably the best decision he will ever make. Watching him perform under the Arch with the Silent Drill Platoon was the highlight of my year. I am so proud of him.”

The platoon met with the crowd after the show, and then headed back to their hotel. Shortly after, storm clouds enveloped St. Louis as two inches of rain drenched the city.