Poolees from Recruiting Substations Belleville and Springfield, Ill., braved a steady rainfall to watch the United States Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon perform at the Illinois State Fair Aug. 14.
Though some of the future Marines traveled more than 100 miles to see the precision drill exhibition, all enjoyed the road trip.
“My poolees really enjoyed it,” said Staff Sgt. Hakim M. Jackson, SNCOIC, RSS Belleville. He said he couldn’t pass a rare opportunity for his poolees to watch Marines in action. “Their performance is motivating, so I wanted to make sure the pool had a chance to see it.”
Jackson said he has experienced the drill platoon’s presentation three other times during his career, but this show was different. Due to the rain and muddy conditions, the event was moved from the fairgrounds arena, to the grandstand and finally to the fair director’s courtyard.
The small size of the parade area and the courtyard effect of surrounding trees made for an intimate performance for poolees and approximately 1,000 members of the community.
Instead of wasting a wet day at the fair, the poolees learned about teamwork, discipline and the significance of drill.
“That was one of the best pool functions I’ve ever been to,” said Lindsey A. Gray, a poolee from Springfield, Ill. “The rain wasn’t even a big deal.”
Gray said she had attended many pool functions, but never expected to see the SDP perform in Springfield.
“I learned they were more disciplined than what I thought they could ever be,” Gray said of the performance.
The SDP’s presence was originally requested by the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs for veterans’ day at the fair. The tribute to “America’s War Heroes Past and Present” included a presentation of the colors, a performance by the Joliet American Legion Band and a United Service Organizations concert.
Paul S. Taplin, division chief of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs, made the request to have the drill team perform.
“The easiest part (of the performance) was sending the paperwork,” he said.
Taplin submitted a DD form 2536, Request For Armed Forces Participation in Public Events, to Headquarters, Marine Corps. In order to sponsor the SDP, transportation, food and lodging somehow had to be paid for.
“The American Legion Post 32 had a steak dinner, breakfast was at the Veterans of Foreign Wars post 755, and a free luncheon for any veteran was provided,” Taplin explained. “Those guys at the VFW were thrilled to death to do it all for the Marines.” He said the state fair also paid for the Marines’ lodging.
Taplin said he considered the drill team’s performance the most successful of the day and that everything went well considering the inclement weather.
“Just to see the Silent Drill (Platoon’s) performance with the poolees was the best part,” said Jackson.
Always the professional recruiter, Jackson said he couldn’t miss an opportunity to Area Canvass at the state fair.
“(The Silent Drill Team) really helped the recruiting effort,” Jackson explained. “They brought out the sunshine on a rainy day.”