Photo Information

Cpl. Kyle Trajkovski, Grounds Platoon, Headquarters and Service Company, operates a lawn vacuum in the Marine and Family garden at the Home of the Commandants', Marine Barracks Washington, D.C. May 13, 2015. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Christian Varney/ Released)

Photo by Cpl. Christian Varney

In the Shadows of the Barracks

18 May 2015 | Cpl. Christian Varney Marine Barracks

The atmosphere of the Barracks accurately mimics the pride and precision of the Marine Corps and helps the “Corps’ Oldest Post” fulfill its mission of representing all Marines worldwide.

A lot of work goes on at Marine Barracks Washington, D.C., in order to make the magic happen every Friday night. Most of this work is unseen, and the Barracks’ guests only see the final product.

The Marines that show up first and leave last are not the Marines in the spotlight, they are the Marines of the Grounds Combat Element, Headquarters and Service Company.

Grounds platoon is a very unique part of Marine Barracks; there is no other place in the Marine Corps where a Marine’s day to day job is maintaining the presentation of a whole installation.

“All my guys are infantry Marines who have no background in landscaping, yet they are tasked with the overall beautification and presentation of the Barracks,” said Capt. Andrew Burger, H&S Company Executive Officer and Grounds Officer in Charge.

Grounds platoon does everything from shining poles around the Barracks to collecting soil samples to ensure plants are properly watered.  In the winter they deal primarily with snow removal. Their job is all manual labor.  

Grounds platoon has four squads to ensure the Barracks’ appearance is kept to its high standard. A squad that deals with everything inside the gate, a different squad that handles all the areas outside the gate that the general public will see, a squad that maintains the Marine and Family Garden at the Home of the Commandants’ along with the front of the commandants’ house, and a watering squad that waters all the plant life.

“Watering the plants is a very relaxing and delicate job,” said Lance Cpl. Fernando Maldonado. “I really enjoy the peace and tranquility that it brings me.”

During an Evening Parade guests come into the barracks by using the gates and gardens of the quarters residents, which are kept pristine by Grounds Platoon. While guests are standing in line to get in the gate, they remark on how kempt the flowers and green box woods are. Once the visitors are inside the gate, they see even more plant life and finally the immaculate parade deck.

“The Barracks couldn’t effectively function without grounds,” said Gunnery Sgt.  Jeffrey Vogel the Grounds platoon sergeant. “The work grounds Marines do is the first impression visitors have of the Barracks.”