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Musician Transitions To a Very Different Outfit

The U.S. Marine Band's Newest Recruit Receives a Crash Course in Corps Values

By Michael E. Ruane
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 2, 2005; Page A01

He has been to Mr. Sneed's on Eighth Street, across from the barracks, to get a regulation haircut.

He has been to Mr. Yi, next door, to get fitted for his crimson and blue uniforms.


Oboist Joseph DeLuccio, the most recent addition to the U.S. Marine Band, tries on his uniforms at the Marine Annex as he is instructed in how to assemble and wear them. (Lucian Perkins -- The Washington Post)

He has learned how to salute: Right hand only. Elbow out. Fingertips to the back of the hat bill, with no palm or thumb showing.

By the way, Marine, it's a cover, not a hat.

And he has been warned against chewing gum in uniform.

Now it is showtime.

This Sunday, recruit Joseph DeLuccio, 27, a carpenter's son from Vernon, N.J., makes his debut with the Marine Corps -- not with a rifle, but with a black, short-barrel, smooth-bore instrument that he will carry throughout his career in uniform.

The oboe.

DeLuccio, who has been in his khaki and olive green service uniform just over a week, is the newest member of the Marine Band, known as the President's Own, which has serenaded every chief executive from John Adams to George W. Bush.

His trip into a Marine uniform bypassed one essential stop made by virtually all other Marines: the 13-week ordeal commonly known as boot camp. Making the Marine band does not require crawling through the mud, being yelled at by a drill instructor or learning hand-to-hand combat. Band members don't learn to fire a weapon because they never expect to use one.

The Marine Band's roughly 130 members are the only musicians, in any military service, to be spared such training, according to Capt. John R. Barclay, executive assistant to the band's director, because they will never be called to combat.

The thinking is that the musicians are a highly trained elite group, the best Marines at what they do, and music should be their focus.

"The average Marine . . . will spend 13 weeks becoming a Marine," Barclay said. "The members of the band spend their whole life preparing . . . to come here."

The band, established by Congress in 1798 and made famous in the late 1800s by composer and conductor John Philip Sousa, is the oldest professional music organization in the country. It is made up of some of the finest musicians in the world.


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