Depot color guard takes pride in work, actions are recognized
By Pfc. Alicia Small
| | July 20, 2007
MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO --
At the beginning of many community events, like Padres baseball games, there is one group who is often seen but not recognized for the patriotism they bring to audiences throughout San Diego.
Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego Color Guard is responsible for presenting the National Colors at several events and honoring fallen veterans by performing various tasks at memorial services.
Representing and supporting the commanding general and the Marine Corps is the mission of the depot color guard. Their presence at various events can also be used as a recruiting tool. According to Sgt. Chris Marquez, funeral noncommissioned officer in charge, the color guard always looks their best in uniform and he believes that helps gain interest in the Marine Corps.
The color guard is present at many events on base as well as at off-base affairs. They perform at morning colors and change of command ceremonies, Commanding General Cup events, parades and sporting events in San Diego.
Another major service the color guard provides is funeral detail, which encompasses several tasks. During these memorial services Marines provide honors, pay respects and support families of the deceased service members.
A burial NCO is in charge of the missions and ensures everyone looks and acts their best at all times. Another Marine, a sword NCO, is placed in charge of a rifle detail that performs a 21-gun salute. There are six casket pallbearers or an urn bearer, a flag bearer and a bugler from the band that plays Taps.
“Executing the ceremonies helps the families in showing them that no matter how many years their loved one served or how long ago it was, the Marine Corps will always honor them for defending the freedoms of the country,” said Cpl. Matthew Wee, funeral NCO.
Wee, who was a member of the Headquarters and Service Battalion in 2005 and a depot color guardsmen since January 2007, said he felt every aspect of funeral detail was important. The color guard spends hours perfecting everything from their uniforms to the cleanliness of the rifles used in the salute.
Marquez said he is honored to be a part of the memorial services even though the situation is sad. He said he felt it was like being a part of history because he was burying someone who was part of history.
“Every person who earned the title Marine and did what it took to keep it deserves to have military honors at their funeral,” said Marquez. “I am just grateful to be a part of it.”
Being a member of the depot color guard is a rewarding experience and a great learning opportunity. Cpl. Daniel Soto said when a Marine becomes a member of the color guard, he is thrown into dealing with people of high prestige. The Marine is forced to adapt and enhance the professionalism and skills learned in basic training.
Marines in the color guard learn how to maintain the high standards of the Marine Corps and take advantage of the benefits of their work. By committing to as many events as possible, the Marines are able to meet many people during their tour on the color guard.
Members of the color guard dedicate and sacrifice their time, even holidays and weekends, to accomplish their mission. They are seen at events all across San Diego and quietly go about their business without expecting praise for their work.
“It can be tiring at times,” said Wee. “But all the hard work is worth it to know your uniform is outstanding and your actions are appreciated.”