The Bugler

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Small Town Salute to a Marine Legend

Small town America is still alive and well and celebrating its heroes. On Sunday September 23rd, Raritan, New Jersey (population 6200) held its annual parade in honor of its own Marine legend, John Basilone. The 31st Annual John Basilone Parade was the culmination of a weekend of activities, including a swing band concert at the Basilone statue on Friday night, 5k and 1k races on Saturday and two Marine Band concerts at the local community college.

Photo of John Basilone from basiloneparade.com. Original from NY Daily News 1943.
According to The Star Ledger, "about 6000 people turn out for the parade and roughly 150 military units take part in the parade." The full schedule and description of the events can be found at BasiloneParade.com and would make an interesting weekend adventure next year if you are in the New Jersey area.

John Basilone was a gunnery sergeant during World War II and was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroism at Guadalcanal and his citation from President Roosevelt tells what an extraordinary young man he was:

"For extraordinary heroism and conspicuous gallantry in action against enemy Japanese forces, above and beyond the call of duty, while serving with the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines in the Lunga Area, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, on 24 and 25 of October 1942. While the enemy was hammering at the Marines defensive positions, Sgt. Basilone, in charge of 2 sections of heavy machine guns, fought valiantly to check the savage and determined assault. In a fierce frontal attack with the Japanese blasting his guns with grenades and mortar fire, one of Sgt. Basilone's sections, with its 'gun crews,' was put out of action, leaving only 2 men able to carry on. Moving an extra gun into position, he placed it in action, then, under continual fire, repaired another and personally manned it, gallantly holding his line until replacements arrived. A little later, with ammunition critically low and the supply lines cut off, Sgt. Basilone, at great risk to his own life and in the face of continued enemy attack, battled his way through hostile lines with urgently needed shells for his gunners, thereby contributing in large measure to the virtual annihilation of a Japanese regiment. His great personal valor and courageous initiative were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service."

As if this was not enough, Basilone volunteered to return to the Pacific. Although he lost his life at Iwo Jima, he was awarded the Navy Cross posthumously for his heroism during this battle. Gunnery Sergeant "Manila" John Basilone was the only Marine in WWII to receive both the Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross. The US Naval service launched the destroyer USS Basilone, named in his honor, in December 1945. It served from 1945 until 1977. Be sure and read more about GySgt. Basilone at MarinesWWII.com. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

An Introduction to Competitive Drill

Competitive drill is a common practice among Junior ROTC units and college ROTC units. It's also a growing practice among professional, post-high school drillers. In competition, schools, teams, and/or individuals will go head to head to be the best team of the day, as determined by the drill meet's scoring system.

There are many divisions of competition. The first division occurs with the decision to use a rifle. If you choose to use a rifle in your drill, you will be classified in competition as an armed competitor. If you do not wish to use a rifle in your drill, you will be classified in competition as an unarmed competitor.

The armed category has two divisions that are used to separate competitors based on the weight of the rifle they are using. Facsimile Arms refers to a weapon that (usually) weighs between 2 and 4 pounds. Demilitarized Arms refers to a heavier weapon that (usually) weighs more than 8.5 pounds. Common demilitarized arms include the 1903 rifle (and variances), the M1 rifle, and the M14 rifle. Replica weapons are widely used due to their abundance, durability, and price. As a special note, female-only teams are usually classified under Facsimile Arms, regardless of their weapon weight. Both armed and unarmed drill can further be broken into three other categories: regulation, exhibition, and color guard. Regulation drill is manual driven, meaning that every movement is predefined by a manual. For example, Army units will use FM 3-21.5 as their guide for marching and weapon manipulation. In competitive regulation drill, the objective is to be the sharpest team, while conforming to the manual as much as possible.

Exhibition drill has fewer rules, and is more about artistic display. Armed teams will spin, toss, and exchange weapons with other team members (a la the Army Old Guard or the Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon). Unarmed teams will use their arms and legs to create entertaining sequences, while maintaining a high degree of military posture. In competitive exhibition drill, the objective is still to be sharp (as displayed through weapon precision, for armed teams, and body composure), but also to display high levels of difficultly and variety in tricks.

Color guard, while mostly used for strictly ceremonial practices, is also a competitive division of drill. The color guard phase is much like regulation drill, but with a different manual. In competitive color guard drill, the objective is to be the sharpest team while conforming to their specific color guard manual as much as possible.

The last division of competition involves team size. Common team sizes include 1 person (called a solo), 2 people (a tandem), 4 people (a tetrad), 6-9 people (a squad), and 12-16 people (platoon/flight).

There is currently no widespread, standardized scoring system for drill. Because of this, there are often many variances in scoring from competition to competition. Currently, only two scoring system manuals the have been developed to address this problem (both exclusively for armed exhibition drill), but neither system is widely used at the moment. The first system was created by John "DrillMaster" Marshall and is called the "WDA Adjudication Manual and Rule Book" and is available at ParadeStore.com. The second system is a free alternative created by myself, called "Exhibition Essentials." The manual and score sheets can be downloaded here.

Competitive drill has experienced defining changes in the past few years. 2007 saw the introduction of the Isis World Drill Championships (IWDC), which is held in Daytona, Florida along with the National High School Drill Team Championships. IWDC is an armed exhibition drill competition for solos and tandems. The introduction of the IWDC gave birth to the "professional driller," a term which, so far, only describes a competitive post-high school driller. Since 2007, several other professional-level competitions have emerged, including Pro-Am and half a dozen state-wide competitions.

For more information on competitive drill or if you want to learn more (how to spin perhaps?), visit IndependentDrill.com.

Adam Jeup has been an active driller for 8 years. Of these, he spent four years on a team practicing Unarmed Regulation, Unarmed Exhibition, Armed Regulation (demilitarized arms), and Armed Exhibition (demilitarized arms). Most recently, he's competed 4 times at IWDC. Adam Jeup currently owns and operates Independent Drill, a learning resource for drillers of all skill levels. Stay tuned to the Bugler for more exclusive articles from Adam on competitive drill!

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