CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Marine Corps band members from the last six decades recently met here for their annual Marine Corps Musicians Association Reunion.
During their visit, they observed their heritage and glimpsed their influence on today's Corps.
While the MCMA members relished the opportunity to perform with 2d Marine Division's Band, many of their younger counterparts took advantage of their knowledge and past experience.
"I pick these guys' brains for all the nuggets of information I can," said Gunnery Sgt. Kenneth J. Serfass from San Diego, and senior instrumentalist with the band. "It's like I can just reach out and touch the history of Marine Corps musicians. This is the stuff I read about and it's all right at my fingertips."
A concert was held in the former musician's honor during their stay, and they also joined the band during an evening colors ceremony at II Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters April 20. Together, current and past band members played numerous compositions during the event.
Many of the former leathernecks have performed in numerous bands throughout the Corps as well as Marine Corps League bands after retirement. Some looked forward to seeing and conversing with friends otherwise out of touch.
"The reunion is a wonderful event. I look forward on an annual basis to seeing all my friends that I worked for and the ones that worked for me," said retired Chief Warrant Officer Andy Olesak from Beaufort, S.C. "Some of them, I haven't seen in more than 50 years."
More than just meeting old friends, MCMA members also enjoyed a few tours around base, live-fire demonstrations and other Marine Corps related events.
They all gathered at Sywanyks Scarlett & Gold, a local bar full of Marine Corps memorabilia, for a mess night to re-live old times and talk about future ones.
"I'm very proud of the bands improving all the time," said Olesak "Modern-times advancement of the music program (Military Occupational Specialty schools) is much better than what we had in the old days."
Although they are no longer in the Corps, many of the prior service "devil dogs" continue serving, assisting recruiters with band performances as Marine Corps League members and Marine Corps reserve components. According to some, it's a way to stay in touch with a job they love.
"I've done Toys for Tots concerts two years in a row with the Marine Corps League to support local recruiters," said former Sgt. Clarence M. Stark from Willis, Texas. "We also work with families of new recruits to help them get used to being in the Marine Corps family."
Once a Marine, always a Marine.