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Nov. 3, 2004

Columbia, S.C. –
Saturday’s South Carolina-Arkansas football game at Williams-Brice Stadium will feature what has become the most anticipated pregame and halftime show of the season, as the University of South Carolina Athletics Department hosts its annual Salute to the Military.

For more than 10 years, the Athletics Department has conducted this special recognition to our country’s armed forces at the home game scheduled closest to Veteran’s Day. This year’s event promises to be one of the most compelling yet. Representatives from the various military installations across South Carolina will be introduced and recognized at halftime. Gamecock fans will then be in store for a special performance by the United States Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon. This unit has performed twice this fall on ABC-TV’s Monday Night Football and will be making its only appearance at a college game this season Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium.

The United States Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon is a 24-man rifle platoon that performs a unique precision drill exhibition. This highly disciplined platoon exemplifies the professionalism associated with the United States Marine Corps.
The Silent Drill Platoon first performed in the Sunset Parades of 1948 and received such an overwhelming response that it soon became a regular part of the parades at Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C.

The Marines execute a series of calculated drill movements and precise handling of their hand-polished, 10 and one-half pound, M-1 Garand rifles with fixed bayonets. The routine concludes with a unique rifle inspections sequence demonstrating elaborate rifle spins and tosses.

These Marines are individually selected from the Schools of Infantry located in Camp Pendleton, CA and Camp Lejune, NC from interviews conducted by Barracks personnel. Once selected, Marines are assigned to Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C. to serve a 2-year ceremonial tour. Beyond their ceremonial duties, the Marines collaterally train in the field as infantrymen. Throughout the year, these Marines hone their infantry skills at the Marine Corps Combat Development Command in Quantico, VA and other bases.

Experienced members of the Silent Drill Platoon have the opportunity to audition to become Rifle Inspectors. They must go through inspection tryouts graded by the Rifle Inspectors of the previous year. Only two Marines per year are selected to become Rifle Inspectors. They, along with the Platoon DrillMaster, are entrusted with keeping and passing on the unique knowledge and traditions of the Silent Drill Platoon.

Once the year’s Silent Drill Platoon Marines are selected each fall, they begin their rigorous training at Marine Barracks, Washington D.C. and later move to Marine Corps Air Station, Yuma, AZ. They continually work to perfect the routine. Throughout the year, they perform in front of hundreds of thousands of spectators at Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C. and at numerous events across the United States and abroad.

The University of South Carolina would like to take this opportunity to extend its gratitude to the brave men and women who are protecting our freedom around the globe. This country was built upon a strong military and Saturday’s recognition is a tribute to all those who have served their country, both past and present. God Bless the Armed Forces of this nation and God Bless America!