While the U.S. Marine Band has been dubbed "The President's Own," the title of "The Commandant's Own" belongs to the 80 musicians in the U.S. Marine Drum and Bugle Corps.
The unit performs at ceremonies in the capital and on national tours and marches with the Marine Band in Friday night parades at the Marine Barracks, where both groups are based. At every third concert, "The Commandant's Own" performs a rendition of Beethoven's "Ode to Joy," complete with cannons.
It debuted the piece last year, Staff Sgt. Justin Bakewell said, and the commandant liked it so much that the music was "turned into a staple."
Rooted in the tradition of "field musics," who used music to communicate orders to units in battle, the Drum and Bugle Corps was founded in 1934 to supplement the Marine Band.
Musicians hoping to join "The Commandant's Own" must audition for a spot in the Corps. If accepted, they enlist and go through basic training before reporting for duty at the Marine Barracks.
Drum and Bugle Corps alumni celebrated the group's 70th anniversary this month with a ceremony in Arlington and a trip to the Drum and Bugle Corps' Friday evening parade at the barracks, said Bill Gaeckle, 55, of Gambrills, a former member of "The Commandant's Own" who organized the event.