It’s simple. If you grew up on the north side of Chicago , you’re a Chicago Cubs fan. If you’re on the south side, you cheer the White Sox.
Going against the grain, Lance Cpl. Jeremiah Alamo, a north-side Chicago native, fondly remembers cheering his boyhood idols of Frank Thomas and Ozzie Guillen, instead of Mark Grace and Ryne Sandberg.
Now, the 21-year-old Puerto Rican from Humboldt Park found himself representing the Marine Corps as part of the elite Silent Drill Platoon, before 38,082 fans during the Chicago White Sox home opening day at U.S. Cellular Field here April 7.
Alamo was one of 43 Marines with the Silent Drill Platoon who traveled to Chicago for the event. The 24-man rifle platoon performs a unique precision drill exhibition, while the other Marines work behind the scenes to ensure every performance is flawless.
Originally enlisting as an infantryman, Alamo was selected out of the School of Infantry at Camp Pendleton , Calif. , to go to the Marine Barracks Washington (at 8th & I Streets) for ceremonial duty screening. After passing the screenings, he was then sent to the Silent Drill Platoon school for four months of rigorous training.
“On the quarterdeck back in 8th and I, there’s all these (pictures) of all of the cities that the Silent Drill Platoon performed in, and there weren’t any of Chicago . Once I found out we were going to Chicago , I was ecstatic,” said Alamo , the former third baseman and left fielder for the Wells High School Eagles.
At 2:28 p.m., the Silent Drill Platoon made its way onto Cellular Field, entering from center field and stopping just short of the infield, while the “ Americas ’ Marines” commercial played on the giant screen.
“It’s great for the platoon and for the Marine Corps any time we can get out in front of a crowd like this,” said Capt. John E. Greenwood, Silent Drill Team Platoon commander. “This is the first home opener the Silent Drill Platoon has ever performed.”
For the next 14 minutes, the platoon dazzled fans with a series of calculated drill movements and precise handling of its hand-polished, 10.5-pound, M-1 Garand rifles with fixed bayonets. The Marines concluded their routine with a unique rifle inspection sequence and elaborate rifle spins and tosses.
“It’s an exciting day for our fans, and it’s always nice to pay tribute to the men and women of the armed services,” said Nichole Manning, director of game operations for the Chicago White Sox.
The Chicago White Sox has sponsored military activities at here in the past, including the Blue Angels and Army Golden Knights but decided to bring the Silent Drill Platoon to Chicago for the 2008 home opener.
“The Marines were just one group that we haven’t been able to bring out for opening day, and I’m glad we were able to bring them out this year,” said Manning, who spent the majority of her childhood in the Virginia/Washington, D.C. area, as her father, retired Marine Col. Anthony E. Manning, served 30 years in the Marine Corps.
“I was telling all of my friends and family that this would be the most memorable show of my drill team career,” said Alamo.
For more information on the United States Marine Corps Silent Drill team, visit the Marine Barracks Washington Web Site, here.