Photo Information

A young boy sits on a motorcycle with a dog while waiting for the Italian heritage parade to start on Oct. 11., as part of San Francisco Fleet Week 2015. SFFW '15 is a week-long event that blends a unique training and education program, bringing together key civilian emergency responders and Naval crisis-response forces to exchange best practices on humanitarian assistance disaster relief with particular emphasis on defense support to civil authorities.

Photo by Cpl. Joshua Murray

Marines celebrate Italian heritage with San Francisco residents

12 Oct 2015 | Pfc. Devan Gowans I Marine Expeditionary Force

Rounding the corner with their piercing trumpet section, explosive snare drums and booming bass, the Marines of Task Force San Francisco filed down Jefferson St. and Columbus Ave. during the 147th Annual Italian Heritage Parade as part of San Francisco Fleet Week 2015, Oct. 11.

During their week-long stay in the Bay Area, Marines and sailors established themselves as more than just warfighters by demonstrating their humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts. Static displays were held throughout the town while the rip-roaring, pinpoint precision flight capabilities of the Navy Blue Angels soared over the San Francisco skyline. Various other festive performances were held by the 1st Marine Division Band and Navy Band Southwest.

“Over the course of the parade, we delivered some pomp and circumstance to the residents here,” said Gunnery Sgt. Benjamin Becker, the drum major of the 1st Marine Division Band. “Getting the crowd involved in the performance makes them part of what you are doing and allows them to truly experience the music.”

Crowds rose to their feet while clapping their hands rhythmically as the Marines traversed the parade route and filled the city with patriotic tunes, celebrating the heritage of the Marine Corps and the culture of Italy.

“I love watching the Marine Corps band,” said Tony Martins, a San Francisco resident. “It’s wonderful seeing them perform and I think the more they interact with the community, the more we can build the respect of the armed forces in the minds of the people here.”

Throughout Fleet Week, the 1st Marine Division Band has provided entertainment to the patrons of various sponsored events, including a concert at the Marines Memorial Club and street performances held at Pier 39 and Pier 80 in conjunction with the static ship displays.

“People truly enjoy the Marine Corps presence here at the parade,” said Joe McFadden, a captain in the San Francisco Police Department. “They can’t get enough of it because of the mass amounts of respect that the citizens here have for the armed forces.”

With the many different cultural groups that reside in San Francisco, the purpose of the parade is to celebrate the Italian heritage and the people that make the city of San Francisco what it is today.

Trailing behind the band was the military marshal of the parade, Brig. Gen. David Ottignon, commanding general of 1st Marine Logistics Group, and a small detachment of Marines in town for Fleet Week.

“Other than our earlier performances the week, my favorite part of Fleet Week has been leading the band through the parade,” Becker said. “I love passing by and seeing the crowds rise to our playing. It means a lot to me as a performer.”

As San Francisco Fleet Week 2015 gradually comes to a close, the Marine Corps and Navy hope to leave the residents of the city with a positive lasting impression of the crisis-response capabilities that the duo can harness in the event of a major disaster.