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Featured Profile for Musician

Erica Simmons

Toward the end of high school, I had no clue what I wanted to do after graduation. I was pretty sure my parents didn’t have much, if any, money for me to go to college so I started looking at other options. One day I walked past the military recruiters that had set up tables in our school. Picking up a brochure of a Marine playing a trumpet, I began to spin a different plan.

I started playing the flute in 4th grade, and I absolutely loved it. So when I found a way to keep music in my life and get paid to do it I couldn’t think of anything better. I was sold!

After passing an entrance audition, I enlisted in the Marine Corps into their Delayed Entry Program. Once I graduated high school, I shipped off to boot camp, completing basic training at Paris Island. From there, it was onto combat training at Camp Lejeune, then the Armed Forces School of Music (SOM) in Virginia Beach, where I received 6 months of rigorous training equivalent to two years as a college music major. After a lot of hard work, I had the distinction of graduating at the top of my class!

Once I graduated from the SOM, I had the opportunity to serve in two of the 12 Marine Corps Field Bands currently deployed domestically and abroad, 1st Marine Division Band in Camp Pendleton, CA, and The Quantico Marine Band stationed at Quantico Marine Base in Virginia. With these units, I traveled all over the country, marched in nationally televised parades and news programs, for dignitaries and heads of state, and many more exciting venues. We also played commitments on and off base in support of military ceremonies and functions. With a crisp appearance and sharp musical cadence, we served as ambassadors for the United States Marine Corps, infusing military pride with our love of Country and Citizen.

While playing music was certainly the focus of our daily responsibilities, we were also often assigned collateral duties as training officers, administrative officers and instrument repair assistants. We also got to do all the usual Marine Corps duties, such as maintaining physical fitness standards, participating in field training activities and annually qualifying on the rifle range.

After serving my time in the Marine Corps, I received an honorable discharge and decided to take advantage of my GI Bill. I pursued a degree from George Mason University, majoring in Political Science. I am currently employed as a Federal Government employee and find that my military experience has benefitted me greatly, using much of the knowledge and skills I used as an active duty Marine on a daily basis.

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