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SOUTH BEACH: EL TORO MARINE BASE

Marine Drill Team, Musicians Perform

March 03, 1998|FRANK MESSINA

About 2,500 military and civilian spectators filled the grandstands Monday to watch the U.S. Marine Drum and Bugle Corps and Silent Drill Platoon perform at El Toro Marine Corps Air Station, which is scheduled to close next year.

"This might be the last time they come here and I wasn't going to miss it," Lake Forest Councilwoman Kathryn McCullough said.

The two Washington-based units tour the United States throughout the year and are considered elite among the Marines.

"We go to drill school for six months and work from 7 a.m. to maybe 8 or 9 p.m. every day," said Lance Cpl. Carl Pettit, a member of the Silent Drill Platoon. "People say we're the best of the best. I signed up to show people what the Marine Corps is about."

Twirling M-1 Garand rifles with fixed bayonets, the platoon ran smoothly through an intricate series of exercises--all without any verbal commands. Dressed in crisp, dark-blue and white uniforms, the 24-member unit weaved silently through their routines with machine-like precision.

The Silent Drill Platoon was one of the highlights for Doug Paris of Laguna Niguel, who was watching the Marines perform for first time.

"I love the patriotism that this represents," Paris said. "It just makes me feel good."

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