Marine

The United States Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon will perform at Patriot Day 2008 Sept. 11 at 6 p.m. at East Central University Norris Field.

Members of the United States Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon will perform at this year’s Patriot Day Thursday at Norris Field stadium on the East Central University campus in Ada.

The program, a 9-11 tribute to the fallen and a salute to those who serve and protect, will begin at 6 p.m. and will also include an F-16 flyover by the National Guard.

The Silent Drill Platoon is a 24-man rifle platoon that performs a unique precision drill exhibition. This highly disciplined platoon exemplifies the professionalism associated with the United States Marine Corps.

The Marines execute a series of calculated drill movements and precise handling of their hand-polished, 10.5-pound, M-1 Garand rifles with fixed bayonets.

The routine concludes with a unique rifle inspection sequence demonstrating elaborate rifle spins and tosses. Heather O’Neal, coordinator of this year’s event, describes the Silent Drill Platoon as “amazing.”

“It is going to be great,” she said. “I am just praying for no rain.”

The Silent Drill Platoon will arrive in Ada by military aircraft at 12:30 p.m. Thursday. They will be met by a welcoming committee at the Ada Airport before being whisked away for lunch at Ada Elks Lodge.

Special guest speaker for the occasion is Brig. Gen. Gary D. Bray, deputy commander of the Oklahoma Army National Guard. Bray was commissioned as an artillery second lieutenant in 1977 after graduating from the Oklahoma Military Academy where he was awarded the Erickson Trophy as the distinguished graduate.

His career has included assignments in the 45th Field Artillery Brigade, 45th Infantry Brigade and the Oklahoma State Area Command.

His command assignments have included Batteries A and B, 1st Battalion 158 Field Artillery, 1st Battalion 160th Field Artillery and 45th Field Artillery Brigade.

In January 2003, he was assigned to his current position as Deputy STARC Commander for the Oklahoma Army National Guard in Oklahoma City.

Dr. Larry Birney, director of the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training (CLEET) will also speak during the program.

O’Neal encourages area residents to “come together to say thank you to our veterans, to our troops serving overseas and here in the U.S., to our police officers and to our firemen, and to pay honor to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice.”

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