AL ASAD, Iraq -- Every Marine is a rifleman – something every Marine learns in recruit training. No matter what their job is, Marines are expected to pick up a rifle and join the fight when the time comes.
The Marines of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing Band are living up to that standard. The members of the band put down their instruments and picked up their rifles to become part of the security detachment for the Tactical Air Control Center at Al Asad.
“All Marines are riflemen,” said Sgt. Austin Hunt, a trumpet player with the band and a member of the TACC security force, and Harriet, Ark., native. “It’s different going from the band to doing something else, yes, but it’s great. Every time you change something up, get out of the monotony, it’s a good thing.”
Making the change from music to security was easy for the Marines of the band, according to Sgt. Stephen Talbot, a trombone player and member of TACC security, and Long Island, N.Y., native.
“It came pretty naturally,” said Talbot. “We take a lot of pride in the fact we’re riflemen first and that we are able to plug into different environments, different situations and scenarios. So coming here was fun, because it’s a lot different than being out on the parade deck playing for ceremonies. But at the same time, it just incorporated a lot of different elements of training from boot camp all the way to the pre-deployment training we received before we got here.”
The pre-deployment training for the Marines ranged from weapons handling to detainee operations, according to Talbot.
The job of TACC security has kept the band Marines fairly busy during their deployment, something the Marines have no problem with, according to Hunt.
“It’s a change of pace,” said Hunt. “It’s always good to do something different and be a ‘real Marine’ so to speak. Out here we are able to do different things. We stand TACC security, we have a few people (acting as military police) and a few people doing badging. It’s a good change of pace.”
The role as military policemen and badging officials are new to the Marines of the band, according to Talbot.
“The band has come out to Al Asad previous times and been strictly TACC security, but this time we are augmenting (2nd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion), so we’re being incorporated into all the facets of a security battalion,” said Talbot. “It’s a great way for us to prove and show to the rest of the Marine Corps that Marine musicians are more than capable of being plugged into different job fields, and that we do an outstanding job.”
The band Marines are not all work and no play however. They practice in their off time and played morning colors as a band March 30. They also provide a bugler to play morning and evening colors.
“That kind of filled in the gap that I have, the musical gap, from coming out here,” said Sgt. William Killian, a tuba player in the band and a member of TACC security, and Syracuse, N.Y., native. “Plus, we have our horns here in the guard shack, so we’re able to keep up on our music.”
There are currently 15 band Marines deployed to Al Asad. They are scheduled to cycle out with a second wave of Marines after six months. While they are here though, the Marines are just glad they get to help with the mission, according to Talbot.
“Most of our time out here is spent doing security,” said Talbot. “It’s paramount to us, and it’s paramount for the deployment. We came here to help win the fight.”