One last charge;History comes alive for Band promo
By Sgt. Jimmie Perkins
| Marine Corps Recruiting Command | September 27, 2002
LEESBURG, Va. --
On a crisp, clear, late September morning, in the northern most county in the Commonwealth of Virginia, the last battle of the Revolutionary War was fought. Brave young men from all corners of our great land fought side by side in the green, blue and white uniforms of the famed Continental Marines. In swift pursuit of an elusive foe, this small band of brothers engaged in the battle of Belmont Ridge.Belmont RidgeThe scene played out like a living painting by famed Marine artist Col. Charles Waterhouse. The steady and disciplined formation of Marines maneuvered on line for the attack. The drum rhythmically beating out the pace of their march and the commands from the officers. The sharp call, "Make ready!" as the muskets come to bear downrange. Then, "FIRE!" and the booming crack of the muskets, belching fire and white smoke down the line. A surge in the line as adrenaline and emotion fueled an all out charge down the slope, the Marines rushing forward in a furious assault. Over the low fence lines, dodging the dust and debris kicked up by the enemy artillery and across the burning, scarred terrain the Marines attacked. Leading the charge, the swirling red, white and blue of a Marine bearing the flag of our young nation.If not for a simple twist of fate, the deeds of these Marines would have gone unnoticed. The battle will never be recorded in the lore of the Corps, yet our Marines performed honorably. It will never be found in any books on the Revolutionary War either...why? These Marines were born 200 years after the Revolution. The battle of Belmont Ridge happened two days ago...Sept. 25, 2002."Origin"In the latest installment of successful television produced for the Marine Corps by J. Walter Thompson, the Corps' advertising agency, today's Marines bring to life the forefathers of the Marine Corps, the Continental Marines.The public service announcement "Origin" is currently in production and is due out this winter. The main benefactor of the spots will be the Marine Corps Bands whom the PSA highlights."This is the first time something like this has been done for the field bands," said Gunnery Sgt. Michelle Worster, Band Coordinator. "Hopefully when we get done, the field bands, Drum & Bugle Corps and the United States Marine Band will all benefit."The bands have one of the largest public profiles of any Marine Corps unit, averaging more than 300 performances a year each. Many of these appearances take place when the bands go on tour. This commercial is designed to create awareness of the band's performances."The more people we can get out to our appearances the more target audience we reach for the recruiting effort," said Worster.The Quantico Marine Band and the Drum & Bugle Corps are both featured in the second half of the PSA. In addition the bands will go into the studio to record the background music adding another Marine touch to the project.HeritageStarting with a blank canvas "Origin" was conceived by the creative team at JWT. They sought to incorporate the history of the Corps, and the band in particular, into the commercial because of Marines reverence and respect for their proud heritage."We were trying to come up with something that would give the band PSA the weight it deserves," said Jeff Thompson, a writer with JWT. "While doing some research into the heritage of the Marine Corps Band, we found out that the drummer was responsible for moving the troops into battle. We thought that was such a cool idea and would add some weight to bring that to modern-day Marines."In executing this project the production team received support from the Marine Corps History and Museums Division in Washington."We were asked to assist with checking the accuracy of the uniforms and weapons and also recommend historical consultants to educate the Marines on the military skills of the 18th Century," said Ken Smith-Christmas, historical consultant from the Marine Corps Museum.On the morning of the shoot and throughout the day, the Marines were given lessons, the drill movements, cadence, wear of the uniform, and loading and operation of the muskets. It was a lot to absorb but the Marines gained a better appreciation for their 18th century counterparts."It's pretty hot being in that uniform, wearing the wigs and hats, all day. You start itching, but can't do anything about it because of all the layers of clothing," said Covington, La., native, Cpl. MacGregor Davis. "I wore this for one day, they had to deal with it for months and years.""The biggest reward I take from here is a small, small experience of what those Marines felt like or went through back in their day," said Cpl. Andrew Strohecker, of Baltimore, Md.The museum also provided special assistance in the form of sheet music put together by the Drum Major of the Marine Corps in 1815. According to Smith-Christmas, the drumming done today is a completely different style."The drum beatings that he is playing as they are marching by out there, probably hasn't been played since the Civil War," said Smith-Christmas. "The drummers were so important because that's how you passed all of your commands. The drum did everything because that was the only sound that would carry over the battlefield. They were the communications tool." Hollywood MarinesOne of the key components of Marine Corps commercials is that all the actors are Marines. For this production auditions were conducted in the National Capitol Region. While over 200 Marines tried out, only 19 were selected. The cast included Marines from Marine Barracks 8th & I, Marine Corps Base Quantico and a Marine from Recruiting Station Raleigh, N.C."I always assumed it was actors in the commercials, it never crossed my mind it was Marines," said Sgt. Shane Vickers. "I'm learning a lot about our history. We learned it all on the spot this morning."One new experience for the Marines was seeing the process of film production. They realized that what might only be 30 seconds on television takes hours to shoot."It's been an eye opener, a lot of people don't realize when you see commercials, all the details that go into setting up shots," said 1st Lt. William Weber, a platoon commander from 8th & I."It's fun. It's been a lot of hard work, very time consuming; we got up around 3 a.m. to come out and do this. We do things over and over again so they [the director] can get things just right," said Strohecker.As new to the acting business as these Marines were, the film crew was quite impressed with their performance."The guys were great. They stayed at attention, they were absolutely perfect. Everything they did was just right, they're naturals," said "Origin" director Steve Colby. "Since they were a little raw they actually did a little better. They didn't have to act. They were Marines, portraying Marines.""You don't get nearly the excitement working on other subjects, there's a whole lot more opportunity with the Marine Corps," said Thompson. "Just who they are in their heritage and history and the bond they have with America. Especially right now it seems to be so much more important and appreciated."