Marine Corps Recruit Training is meant to be difficult, but
one Lynchburg native set the pace for his peers, graduating on Nov. 20, 2015 as
the Hotel Company Honor Man.
Pfc. Michael Kerr, 23, is a graduate of Liberty University,
with a degree in trumpet performance. He enlisted in the Musician Enlistment
Option Program, a highly competitive and rigorous program to place the best
musicians into Marine Corps bands.
Getting a MEOP contract is no easy task. Not only does the
applicant have to be physically and mentally qualified to be a Marine, but they
must also demonstrate significant technical skill on their instrument during a
After successfully completing his audition, and enlisting
into the Delayed Entry Program, Kerr shined while awaiting his trip to boot
“He was a good, church-going kid,” said Sgt. Christopher
Bangert, Kerr’s recruiter in Lynchburg. “He was fit, has lots of motivation and
was always willing to help out the other poolees. He never complained.”
Kerr actually auditioned for a spot in the band twice, which
due to the low audition pass rate isn’t unusual. What is slightly out of the
ordinary, is that he’d actually passed the first time.
Upon arriving at Marine Corps Recruit Depot
Parris Island for recruit training, Kerr once again shined among his fellow
recruits, and was appointed as the guide for Platoon 2092. He was also the
platoon high shooter and had a perfect physical fitness score, all of which
“Kerr told me he wanted to audition again for a higher score, so he could
qualify for a duty station incentive,” said Gunnery Sgt. Victor Ney, the 4th
Marine Corps District’s musician placement director. “He came back and did it,
so he selected Marine Corps Air Station Miramar as his future duty station.”
led to his selection as the company honor man.
“He was the oldest recruit in the platoon,” said Staff Sgt. Bryan Williams, the
senior drill instructor for Platoon 2092, and a native of Lawrenceville, Ga.
“He was much more receptive and always helped get the other recruits to do what
they were supposed to do.”
In a rare coincidence, Kerr wasn’t the only Marine musician
in the platoon. It wasn’t a fellow recruit though, it was his senior drill
“I didn’t realize he was heading to the band until after he had been the guide for
a while, and I asked if anyone in the platoon had a college degree,” said
Williams, who served as a drum major before being assigned to drill instructor
For all of his success in recruit training, Kerr says that
he gives all the glory to God.
“At times, it can be hard to keep your head up,” said Kerr.
“I’d just say a prayer to keep me going. I’d look forward to each new challenge,
and the success of the ones we’d accomplish would spring me forward onto the
Following 10 days of leave back in Lynchburg, Kerr will
report to Marine Combat Training, where he’ll learn more advanced combat skills
before going to the Naval School of Music for his training as a Marine
Musician. He’ll then be assigned to the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar band,
and perform hundreds of times a year.