Being in the Band: The Second Marine Aircraft Wing Band Plays for Hauppauge High School

Being in the Band: The Second Marine Aircraft Wing Band Plays for Hauppauge High School

Stevie D. Rosenfeld, Author

     To commemorate Memorial Day, on Friday, May 27th, the Second Marine Aircraft Wing Band came to play for the students of Hauppauge High School. This event was surrounded by a large recruitment fair featuring games, challenges, and activities intended to teach students about life in the military and encourage them to consider joining as a future career choice. However, there are many misconceptions about being in the military, especially the band. But the members were more than happy to share their experience with the Soaring Eagle and to enlighten high schoolers about what it is like to be in the Band. 

     To join the Marine Band, one does not actually go through the normal enlistment process. Before completing the Initial Strength Test or Entry Program, an enlistee must audition and be selected for the program. Many music lovers, like 20-year-old Lance Corporal Ezekiel Gonzalez, knew this was the path for them and auditioned immediately after high school. “I auditioned in high school,” he explained, “I actually enlisted, then once I passed that audition I went to the school of music that the Marine Corp sends everybody to, and I’ve been playing ever since.” Others, like Kenneth Pore, sought higher education before making the decision. He came from a “musical family,” Pore’s mother was a vocalist and he began dancing before elementary school and has been playing instruments since the third grade. He attended college before deciding to dedicate himself to the marine band. “I took an audition when I was a junior in college,” he said, “I decided I want to pursue music full time, so I said ‘Okay, well why not?’ I took the audition, passed on my first go, and the rest is history. I went to the Naval School of Music.” Many enlistees use the Marine Band as a way to get started and to fund their music education. Pore said that “We are not here to just get people in the Marines, we’re here to help and serve you. So if you need help and lessons, we can get you towards where you need to be.” 

     Members of the Marine Band practice 5 days a week, working on songs in a variety of musical styles. Lance Corporal and percussionist Dan Watter loves that he gets “paid to practice” the instrument he loves. He listed the types of music they rehearse on a daily basis, “We do different types of rehearsals such as ceremonial band, jazz band, combo, rock band, marching band, all that kind of stuff.” They do not only play at schools and recruitment fairs, the Marine Band plays at events all over the world. In fact,  Sergeant Kevin Dalton sees travel as the highlight of his experience in the band. “I’ve lived all up and down the east coast,” he says “I’ve been to foreign countries, done military tattoos in Bermuda and Finland. Even just this month, I’ve been everywhere from Kentucky to North Carolina to New York. We travel all over the place.”  Recently, they have at the Kentucky Derby and the Mardi Gras Parade. 

     Hans Christian Anderson said, “Where words fail, music speaks.” Memorial Day is intended to commemorate those who lost their lives serving our country, but it also signifies the growth of a new generation of heroes who can do good for the world in thousands of ways, music being one of them. It is hard to summarize what Memorial Day means in a few words, but the music of the Marine Band made students feel that meaning. They began the concert with several patriotic ballads that caused the audience to stand and contemplate in silence, but ended with such upbeat and happy songs that people were jumping and dancing in the stands. The Marine Band’s concert at Hauppauge was a perfect blend of Memorial Day’s two parts: Remembrance, and Hope.