Established in 1948, the Silent Drill Platoon is one of the
Marine Corps’ most iconic organizations. Their flawless execution during
performances represents every Marines’ attention to detail and performance of
duties both on and off the battlefield.
“We are the face of the Marine Corps,” said Cpl. Kyle
Lassetter, Silent Drill School drill master. The first time that guests see the
Silent Drill Platoon, they see the standard and discipline we uphold in our
Each year from November to March the Silent Drill Platoon
conducts Silent Drill School to hand-select new Marines for the upcoming parade
season. The selection process is
conducted by Marines from previous years to identify Marines who will represent,
on the parade deck, the professionalism associated with the Marine Corps.
The overall purpose of Silent Drill School is to select and
train Marines in a baseline drill sequence, called landing party manual, taught
to all marchers at Marine Barracks Washington, D.C., said Lance Cpl. Christopher
Weddington, assistant drill master of SDS.
To begin the process, senior leadership from the Barracks
interviews Marines at the Schools of Infantry located at Camp Pendleton, Calif.
and Camp Lejeune, N.C. Based on an individual Marine’s background and height, 60
to 90 Marines are selected from SOI and receive orders to the Barracks. Once
assigned to a marching company, those Marines attend SDS.
Throughout the training iteration, the more than 15
instructors ensure the students perfect their individual drill movements,
carefully observing their discipline, bearing, work ethic, and attention to
detail. These traits are stressed during the course and are key characteristics
that make the Marines successful during their time at the Barracks.
After demonstrating proficiency in the landing party drill
manual, the drill master teaches students slide drill, a more complicated set
of drill movements.
“We need to be perfect at the landing party manual before we
move to anything else,” said Lance Cpl. Michael D. Clausen, a student with the
Silent Drill School.
The student body whittles down as each week goes by.
Eventually, the top 15 to 20 students go to Yuma, Ariz. to complete training. There,
students and members of the platoon spend their time perfecting the upcoming
parade season’s drill sequence.
This year we have 15 new SDS graduates and 23 members of
past years, said Lassetter.
Challenge Day is the final phase for the new members of the
platoon. It is an opportunity for the new Marines to compete against old
members and earn a spot in the ‘Marching-24’ – the 24 Marines who perform
Upon completion of training, members of the Silent Drill
Platoon will conduct performances throughout the country as they return from Yuma
and the west/east coast tours for parade season.
Although the platoon has performed regularly for special
events throughout the United States and in places such as Belleau Wood, France;
Fort Henry, Canada; Guam and Iwo Jima, they hope to broaden their travel spectrum
and perform at more locations.
To request a Silent Drill Platoon performance, visit the
Headquarters Marine Corps, Community Relations’ website at http://www.marines.mil/CommunityRelations.aspx.