Story by Cpl Michael McHale on 04/06/2018The Marine Corps Musician Enlistment Option Program (MEOP) offers musicians the chance to bring their talents into the Corps in service to their country. The program was created to grant musicians the ability to travel while performing around the world, earn a free college education and earn the title United States Marine.
To become a Marine musician, applicants must first become a Marine. They are required to pass the Initial Strength Test and audition for the musician program. Once qualified for musical enlistment, applicants will attend 13 weeks of recruit training at either Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island or Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego.
"[Applicants] need to already be a good musician that is ready to become a professional," said Gunnery Sgt. Tony McCormick, the musician placement director for 1st Marine Corps District. "Additionally, [applicants] need to be mentally, morally, and physically qualified to be a United States Marine."
Upon graduation, MEOP Marines attend the Naval School of Music where they train before being assigned to one of the active-duty field bands. The Naval School of Music provides focused training for selected applicants from the Army, Navy and Marine Corps. It is the first stop after basic training for instrumentalists and vocalists looking to join the ranks of the United States Navy and Marine Corps bands. The school is the largest facility of its kind in the world, which provides basic to advanced levels of instruction geared toward preparing sailors and Marines for the challenges of performance within a wide variety of military ensembles. Graduates of the Naval School of Music go on to become musical ambassadors throughout the United States and abroad as members of U.S. Navy and Marine Corps Bands.
Once training is complete, Marine musicians will receive orders to a permanent duty station to serve as musical ambassadors of the United States Marine Corps. The locations these Marines can be stationed are Quantico, VA; Cherry Point, NC; Camp Lejuene, NC; Parris Island, SC; New Orleans, LA; Camp Pendleton, CA; Miramar, CA; San Diego, CA; Kaneohe Bay, HI; Okinawa, Japan; and Marine Barracks, Washington, DC.
Cpl. Deisheli DeWitt, a native of Providence, Rhode Island, serves as an electric bass guitarist and auxiliary percussionist in the Quantico Marine Corps Band aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico. Dewitt spends her days staying fit, managing her area of responsibility and further mastering her craft.
"Every day I wake up early to [workout], then I arrive an hour before morning muster to take care of administrative tasks in my logistics area and start the [morning] off according to our unit's plan of the day," said DeWitt. "I find an hour to practice my bass, an hour to practice drum battle drill and music, then rehearse drum battle music with the drumline, complete my logistics work and hold meetings through [lunch]."
DeWitt joined the military nearly three years ago after getting her associates degree in studio art; finding similar views with the Marine Corps, she decided to enlist.
"The Marine Corps prides itself on a moral code and a set of values; it stands for excellence and selflessness," said DeWitt. "I believe in a hard work ethic and undying commitment to others. I saw an opportunity to align myself with a group of people who crave to be a part of something great and who want to inspire that greatness in others."
Established in 1918, the Quantico Marine Corps Band is one of the oldest professional musical ensembles in the Corps. The band consists of a ceremonial and concert band and is equipped to provide musical support as directed by the Commandant of the Marine Corps and the Commanding Officer of Marine Corps Installations National Capital Region Marine Corps Base, Quantico. The band also sustains a number of small ensembles, including a brass quintet, woodwind quintet, rock and show band, Dixie-land band, and jazz combo.
As an electric bassist, DeWitt participates in both the rock and show band as well as the jazz combo for the Quantico Marine Corps Band. She also works in the training logistical section ensuring the physical fitness standards of the unit and is the acting Single Marine Program (SMP) representative for her unit.
"Cpl Dewitt has exceeded all expectations for a young bass player," said Staff Sgt. Christopher Boice, the administrative chief for the Quantico Marine Corps Band. "She is currently in the top 5% for proficiency in our unit, surpassing the requirements for promotion through SNCO ranks."
DeWitt has performed at many events throughout her Marine Corps career. Some of her most notable events being memorials for America's first responders, the Marine Corps Marathon and the Virginia International Tattoo.
"I am very proud to be honoring the men and women that I've been privileged to play for," said DeWitt. "The firefighters and families at the [Fire Department New York] 9/11 memorial ceremonies, the officers and families at the Cleveland Police memorial ceremonies and every veteran that comes to our summer concerts to hear us play the Stars and Stripes Forever and service songs."
Moving forward, DeWitt has long-term goals to become a certified Art Therapist.
"I plan to get a Masters in Art Therapy with a certification and one day hope to work closely with the military health department and explore health and wellness programs for veterans in the art therapy field," said DeWitt.
For more information about the Marine Musician Enlisted Option Program call 1-800-Marines, visit your local recruiting station or visit https://www.marines.com/becoming-a-marine/enlisted/musician-enlistment-option-program.html.