Marines land on Walt Whitman’s field and take students away with storm and music.

Marines land on Walt Whitman’s field and take students away with storm and music.


The Marine Corps Band had just finished a melancholic rendition of “Shenandoah” on the Walt Whitman High School lawn Wednesday when members noticed the student audience looking listless in the sun.

About half of the band members left the field, but one of the remaining musicians asked the audience to make some noise.

“We can do more,” the musicians said, eliciting cheers from the 11th and 12th graders in the stands.

In response, the musicians played a jazz ensemble and played two upbeat songs that had Marines dancing and students standing up and clapping.

It was another way to win hearts. Students gathered outside the South Huntington school to watch a showcase of Marines, first a performance by the U.S. Marine Corps Drill Team, followed by a famous band and the arrival of two U.S. attack helicopters. It was all part of the run-up to Fleet Week and Memorial Day demonstrations in the New York area.

Marine Corps Training Team presentation at Walt Whitman High School in Huntington Station as part of the Fleet Week and Memorial Day Exhibit. Photo by Rick Kopstein.

“The visit is meant to give the students a chance to see the Marines in a light other than the stereotype,” Maj. Denny Graziosi said.

“When most people think of the Marines, they think of people jumping out of planes, crawling low through mud and blowing things up,” Graziosi told the students. “We do it, and believe me, we do it well.”

But the Marines have more than 350 jobs available, including logistics, administration and intelligence roles, as well as musicians.

“We appreciate our musicians and are so proud of what they do for the Marine Corps,” Graziosi said.

Walt Whitman High School senior Chris Bottger Smolich, 18, said he enjoyed the performance more than he expected. “It definitely made me feel more patriotic,” he said.

Two military attack helicopters, a Super Cobra and a Huey, landed on the high school’s front lawn as part of the morning’s grand finale.

Students approached the helicopter and were invited to enter.

“I’ve seen it on TV, but this is the first time I’ve experienced it in person,” said high school student Tash Georges, 18. “They have three different screens and the technology is amazing. I was really amazed at how they do it.”

Corey Blair, the district’s K-12 counseling supervisor, said he and three other educators were invited to observe cadet training and graduation at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina.

The educators spent four days and three nights living the typical life of trainees, waking up at 5:30 a.m., having breakfast, attending classes, and even doing gymnastics in the rain.

At the end of the mission, the major asked if the school district would be interested in having the Marines come.

Two other Long Island school districts, Sayville and Elwood, sent representatives to the Parris Island training and the Marine Corps visit scheduled for this week.

Blair said several students in every graduating class join the military, including at least six in the Class of 2024. While their time on Parris Island allowed them to better assist students interested in enlisting, Blair said he’s excited for all students to enlist and get exposure to what the Marine Corps has to offer, regardless of their career path.

Fleet Week, which begins Thursday and runs through May 28, brings U.S. warships to port in major U.S. cities, giving members of the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard an opportunity to interact with local residents and build community bonds. do.

On Saturday, U.S. military attack helicopters will land on Cricket Field 11 at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and spectators will watch performances by the Northeast Navy Band and Navy Honor Guard, fast-roping demonstrations and other military displays.



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