'Quarters One' becomes French Quarter
By 1st Lt. Anthony Del Signore
| | September 17, 2004
MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif. --
The depot and Western Recruiting Region commanding general held his annual officers' reception at Quarters One here Saturday.
Brig. Gen. John M. Paxton Jr. invited more than 300 officers and community leaders to an evening of drinks, food, music and good conversation.
"The general's officers' reception is a way to enhance camaraderie between the officers of the depot and Western Recruiting Region and to honor the community leaders for their contributions to our civil and military efforts in the community," said Capt. Daniel J. Sanchez, protocol officer. "This is also a good opportunity to allow all the officers to expand their acquaintances and disclose mutual interests between officers that might otherwise go unnoticed."
Traditionally, these receptions are framed with fun themes: Hawaiian, sports, Western, etc. The commanding general's enlisted aide and culinary master, Staff Sgt. Derrick E. Oliver, brought a personal touch to this year's Mardi Gras theme with food from his native town of New Orleans. Oliver and a team of volunteer Marines spent the week preparing for the party.
"I really wanted to give Marines the chance to taste the cuisine because I think New Orleans is a place that many people want to experience but never get a chance to," said Oliver. "This was the hardest reception I have ever prepared due to the complexity of all the selections. We had Cajun marinated beef, fried catfish, N'awlins fried chicken, jambalaya, red beans and rice, seasoned black-tailed shrimp, Louisiana seafood cakes, Mardi Gras coleslaw, New Orleans bread pudding with whiskey sauce and mini pecan pies, which are all traditional N'awlins dishes."
Marine Band San Diego supplied their brass band and jazz combo, which excited guests with its renditions of "Voodoo Groove" and other New Orleans classics.
"The band worked extremely hard learning the tunes we played," said Staff Sgt. Sean G. Schmidlin, assistant drum major. "Those songs are from a genre of music known as New Orleans style brass band. Normally, no written music can be found on these songs so everything is improvised spontaneously. Fortunately, I knew those songs from being stationed in New Orleans and was able to instruct the Marines."
The landscape of food and beverages filled bellies, and the Dixieland performance delighted the ears above every beaded neck.
"Everyone seemed to have a great time at the officers reception this year," said Capt. Bryan R. McClune, aid de camp. "Staff Sgt. Oliver and his crew really went all out. The length of the line and the number of people making return trips reflected how much everyone really enjoyed it. And as always, the band found a way to set the tone. Their parade through the backyard gave it a French Quarter feel. The combination of the excellent N'awlins cooking, the Mardi Gras music, the good weather, and the Butler Gardens made for a good event."