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Lance Cpl. Josh Wiggins poses for a photo while playing his guitar.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Gunnar Welch

A Company of Many Talents

9 Sep 2014 | Lance Cpl. Gunnar Welch

The marching Marines of Marine Barracks Washington, D.C. are probably best known for their precision drill and ceremonial excellence. But for many of them, their talents extend beyond the parade deck.

For several Marines in Alpha Company, this talent is music.

Lance Cpl. Josh Wiggins, a marcher with 1st Platoon from Nashville, Tenn., began playing instruments as a child. He learned how to play the guitar and piano just by listening to songs he heard. When he was 15, he even built his own guitar.

“It was a challenging task. A guitar has a lot more functioning parts than people would think, and a lot of precision is needed to build it right,” said Wiggins.

Wiggins’ musical career took off when he reached high school. He began performing at small shows as a solo act, playing covers to bands like Nirvana and 3 Days Grace. He toured throughout the South, from Tennessee to Louisiana.

After high school, Wiggins continued performing hoping his solo act would snag a few headliner opportunities with other famous bands. He even recorded his own album.

“Touring was a great experience,” said Wiggins. “The best part is to really see the enjoyment fans get out of the shows.”

Soon after high school though, Wiggins said he realized that his music career was slowing down. He decided it was time to pursue his other childhood dream - joining the Marine Corps.

He wanted to take part in something larger than himself, he said.

Wiggins still carries musical aspirations and plans to pursue a musical career when his time in the Corps is finished. Being in the Marine Corps hasn’t stopped him from producing a few hit singles though.

“The Ballad of the Silent Drill Platoon Blues” is well known throughout the company. But his primary focus, for now, is working diligently to serve his country. 

Lance Cpl. Kyle Schneider, a marcher in 2nd Platoon from Commerce, Mich., first gained his interest in music at 12 years old. He, like Wiggins, is a self-taught musician, learning the guitar and drums at a young age.

In high school, he developed a love for the American hardcore punk scene and played drums for a punk band named Come Out Fighting which toured throughout the Midwest.

As the work for Schneider’s band started to slow during his high school graduation summer, he decided to become a Marine.

“I knew the Marine Corps would help me grow up and give back to my country,” said Schneider.

Lance Cpl. Zach Buren of East Liverpool, Ohio and Lance Cpl. Trevor Strickland of Umatilla, Ore., are two other platoon mates of Schneider who played with bands in high school.

Buren became interested in the electric guitar at a young age and learned to play with the help of his father. He did some small-time touring with a heavy-metal band called Motion Sickness, playing at parties and opening for some bigger bands. 

Strickland was a self-taught guitar and bass player by 13, idolizing the band Tenacious D. His band, Adolescent Overdrive, played mostly alternative rock covers through his high school years at different venues, including the Walla Walla Sweet Onion Festival.

Several other Marines in the company also have musical talents in Alpha Company. The company is planning for all these Marines to come together for a jam session in the fall.