Photo Information

Pfc. Michael Kerr, left, stands with his recruiter, Sgt. Christopher Bangert, during a family day at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, Nov. 19. Kerr, a Lynchburg native, graduated as the Hotel Company honor man, meaning he was the top recruit to graduate from the company. Kerr, 23, will be a trumpet player for the Marine Corps Band. (Courtesy Photo)

Photo by Sgt. Aaron Diamant

Setting the tempo: Lynchburg trumpet player graduates boot camp with honors

23 Nov 2015 | Sgt. Aaron Diamant 4th Marine Corps District

Marine Corps Recruit Training is meant to be difficult, but one Lynchburg native set the pace for his peers, graduating on Nov. 20, 2015 as the Hotel Company Honor Man.

Pfc. Michael Kerr, 23, is a graduate of Liberty University, with a degree in trumpet performance. He enlisted in the Musician Enlistment Option Program, a highly competitive and rigorous program to place the best musicians into Marine Corps bands.

Getting a MEOP contract is no easy task. Not only does the applicant have to be physically and mentally qualified to be a Marine, but they must also demonstrate significant technical skill on their instrument during a challenging audition.

After successfully completing his audition, and enlisting into the Delayed Entry Program, Kerr shined while awaiting his trip to boot camp.

“He was a good, church-going kid,” said Sgt. Christopher Bangert, Kerr’s recruiter in Lynchburg. “He was fit, has lots of motivation and was always willing to help out the other poolees. He never complained.”

Kerr actually auditioned for a spot in the band twice, which due to the low audition pass rate isn’t unusual. What is slightly out of the ordinary, is that he’d actually passed the first time.

“Kerr told me he wanted to audition again for a higher score, so he could qualify for a duty station incentive,” said Gunnery Sgt. Victor Ney, the 4th Marine Corps District’s musician placement director. “He came back and did it, so he selected Marine Corps Air Station Miramar as his future duty station.”

Upon arriving at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island for recruit training, Kerr once again shined among his fellow recruits, and was appointed as the guide for Platoon 2092. He was also the platoon high shooter and had a perfect physical fitness score, all of which

led to his selection as the company honor man.

“He was the oldest recruit in the platoon,” said Staff Sgt. Bryan Williams, the senior drill instructor for Platoon 2092, and a native of Lawrenceville, Ga. “He was much more receptive and always helped get the other recruits to do what they were supposed to do.”

In a rare coincidence, Kerr wasn’t the only Marine musician in the platoon. It wasn’t a fellow recruit though, it was his senior drill instructor.

“I didn’t realize he was heading to the band until after he had been the guide for a while, and I asked if anyone in the platoon had a college degree,” said Williams, who served as a drum major before being assigned to drill instructor duty.

For all of his success in recruit training, Kerr says that he gives all the glory to God.

“At times, it can be hard to keep your head up,” said Kerr. “I’d just say a prayer to keep me going. I’d look forward to each new challenge, and the success of the ones we’d accomplish would spring me forward onto the next one.”

Following 10 days of leave back in Lynchburg, Kerr will report to Marine Combat Training, where he’ll learn more advanced combat skills before going to the Naval School of Music for his training as a Marine Musician. He’ll then be assigned to the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar band, and perform hundreds of times a year.

Unit News
4th Marine Corps District