The crowd sits quietly, watching the firing detail prepare for their ceremonial, three-round volley. The commands are given: READY! ... AIM! ... FIRE! Even though the crowd knew the shots were coming, they still flinched as the pops ring out from the rifles.
This was the reaction of the audience while the rifle detail performed at the 57th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice Day Ceremony at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl), July 27.
The Headquarters& Service Battalion, Marine Corps Forces, Pacific rifle detail is a unit made up of eight Marines from sergeant down to private first class stationed here. They come from various jobs and show exceptional skill in drill and rifle manual. These skills are vital for performing at military ceremonies.
Sgt. Izzel P. Sanchez, the detail noncommissioned officer in charge, said it made him feel proud to participate in the event and support the detail.
“I would like to do it again if given the chance,” said Sanchez.
The other Marines on the detail shared Sanchez’s enthusiasm and support.
“I’m definitely glad to have participated in an event like this,” said Pfc. Joshua J. Robey, a young Marine.
This was his first time on the rifle detail and said he would like to stay and participate in more ceremonies because it means a lot to be part of something special.
Sgt. Maj. Michael D. Berg, the battalion sergeant major, oversees the detail.
“It’s basic rifle movements with a few twists here and there, but the firing isn’t quite something that they learn in boot camp,” said Berg.
Cpl. Clayton M. Wanless said the detail practiced everyday for a week to make sure everything was in sync for the event.
“The practices cut into our day, but it was nice to do something different,” said Wanless.
The detail was assembled to participate in military events as well as community events around the island.
“Being on Hawaii and by Pearl Harbor, there are different ceremonies and events that we need to support,” said Berg. “It’s a big part of Camp Smith, and civilians always like Marines to participate in events. The rifle detail is only a small portion of what we do to support the community.”
Some of the events and days the detail will participate in are as follows:
• Memorial Day
• Veterans Day
• Military funerals
• Honoring dignitaries
“It’s always an honor to send our Marines out into the public eye. Despite the fast pace of deployments going on, sometimes it’s a task to support civilian events, but Marines always step up to the challenge,” said Berg.
The MARFORPAC rifle detail might only be a small unit, but can participate in any size event throughout the surrounding community, seemingly projecting an outstanding display of patriotism.