SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico --
Marine Corps Band New Orleans joined Reserve Marines from Detachment 1, Landing Support Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 45, 4th Marine Logistics Group, to travel to various locations across Puerto Rico, Oct. 17-18, 2016, for a concert series to introduce the local communities to the Marine Corps Reserve and as part of a bigger celebration of the MFR Centennial commemoration.
The band was able to showcase the history and heritage of the Reserve, formed from people coming from all walks of life, and all areas of the United States, including Puerto Rico.
“Puerto Rico has a lot of Marines that have been legends in the United States Marine Corps,” said Master Sgt. Joel Cortes, Band Master for the Marine Corps Band New Orleans. For example baseball player Roberto Clemente, he was a Reserve Marine, even people from Puerto Rico didn’t know that.”
“Puerto Rico has many Reserve Marines that fought in World War II, also in the Korean War,” he continued, “And recently awards to four Marines from Puerto Rico were upgraded in 2014 to the Medal of Honor.”
According to Cortes, these events were also unique because it had been around 25 years since a Marine Band visited Puerto Rico and had the opportunity to play for the people here. It also allowed the Marines to expose the community to 100 years of extraordinary contributions from the Reserve force through the use of music, visuals, and actors in period piece costumes that marked critical points in their history.
“I think is important because here in Puerto Rico you see a lot of National Guard and the Army but you don’t know a lot about the Marine Corps,” said Cpl. Samuel Rivas, a musician with Marine Corps Band New Orleans and a native of Puerto Rico. “When I grew up I didn’t know anything about the Marine Corps.”
“So to show the people of Puerto Rico what we do is very exciting. Being able to influence them and get that message to people is so important.”
To complete the week-long celebration, the band joined Landing Support Co. for their 241st Marine Corps Birthday Ball celebration. Also attending the celebration was Lt. Gen. Rex C. McMillian, commander of Marine Forces Reserve and Marine Forces North. As the guest speaker at the event, McMillian thanked them for contributing to the history and heritage of the Marine Corps Reserve and emphasized the importance of the Reserve’s essential role as a crisis response force and expeditionary force in readiness that is always prepared to augment the active component.