Photo Information

Staff Sergeant Hiram R. Carrion, an enlisted aide, prepares a food dish prior to an evening parade at Marine Barracks Washington, D.C., Aug. 14, 2015. The aides plan the menu for official events, shop for the menu items and prepare the dishes, all while documenting and accounting for every expenditure.(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Christian Varney/Released)

Photo by Cpl. Christian Varney

The Marine Aides

19 Aug 2015 | Cpl. Christian Varney Marine Barracks

At Marine Barracks Washington, D.C., there is a lot of behind the scenes tasks that are essential to completing the mission. It is the Marines that work behind the scenes, often unnoticed, who are the heartbeat of the Barracks.

The enlisted aides for the Commandant of the Marine Corps are there to help the commandant in all official manners. These Marines pass through the Barracks every day in black pants and polo-shirts and stealthily move about during official functions, but the majority of Barracks personnel and guests don’t know who they are. They are seen walking into work at all hours of the day and leaving in the early morning.

The Marine Corps is authorized 21 enlisted aides in support of general officers. The Commandant of the Marine Corps assigns those aides to various generals based on allocations from the Department of Defense.

In order to become an aide, a Marine must hold the primary military occupational specialty of 3381 food service specialist, volunteer in writing and be recommended by his or her staff non-commissioned officer in charge and officer in charge. In addition, the Marine must have a favorable background, a civilian driver’s license, and meet physical fitness and weight standards. He or she must be able to obtain a top secret clearance, be on his or her second or later enlistment, and have at least two years left on their contract.

Master Sgt. Brian Brazil, the senior aide to the commandant, has been a part of the aide program since 1997, working for three Commandants of the Marine Corps, and several other general officers.

“The key to being a good aide is trust,” said Brazil. “The general you work for has to be able to trust you.”

The commandant is authorized three Marine aides and a curator.

The aides run the Home of the Commandants entirely and clean the areas of the home that are used for entertaining guests. These Marines prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner in an official capacity and for sanctioned Marine Corps’ events, which are referred to as qualified representation events.

“Maintaining the home takes up a large percentage of our time,” says Brazil. “It is a 200 year old house so it needs a little extra work.”

The curator is an additional billet given to an aide. He is responsible for all the historical items in the house as well as preserving and keeping all the paintings, furniture and fixtures in the Home of the Commandants. Some of the items belong to the Marine Corps Museum in Quantico, Va., and other items belong to Marine Barracks Washington, D.C.

“I love my job because I get to see the effect my work,” said Staff Sgt. Jonathan Rivera, the current curator for the Home of the Commandants. “I lay the groundwork and get to see the big picture of how my job affects the Marine Corps.”

The aides plan the menu for each official event, shop for the menu items and prepare the dishes, all while documenting and accounting for every expenditure. The preparation for each event starts two weeks prior. The first week the aides shop for and prepare any meats and foods that can be frozen. The week of the event the aides purchase and prepare all the perishables.

“I like to create things that are different; it is all about doing the impossible,” said Master Sgt. Charles Cox, enlisted aide to the commandant. “I hate to do the same thing twice.”

During large events, like a Friday Evening Parade, the official party’s reception can range anywhere between 200 and 400 guests so the menu must be diligently planned and executed. Each dish, beautifully displayed around the event, must be monitored. When one tray comes back to the kitchen during an event, there has to be one to take its place. The aides skillfully dart through the crowds and almost with an invisible quality, not only replacing the empty platters but maintain a clean and expertly catered event.

All in all an aides’ job is about making their general officer’s life a little easier.

“If I can save the commandant five minutes a day, then I have done my job well,” said Brazil.