Anyone who’s ever seen a performance of the USMC Battle Color Ceremony knows the pride and professionalism associated with the U.S. Marine Drum and Bugle Corps.
Its “Music in Motion” is more than a musical performance; it’s a harmony of teamwork, interaction and mutual cooperation.
Those are the same lessons being taught every day to 41 Academy cadets who participate in the MMA band, under the direction of CWO-3 Ed Harris. Since the start of the school year, they’ve been practicing seven days a week to perfect the cooperation needed to perform as a marching band.
That challenge is always difficult, but even more so this year, as there are only two seniors on the squad. Over three-quarters of the band members are new, and nine had never before played a musical instrument.
“We’re very young, but in a way that’s a good thing because next year we’ll be very strong,” Harris said. “Attitude-wise this is by far and away one of the best bands I’ve had before. They want to be good. That’s the most exciting thing.”
Harris, 42, joined MMA in 1998 after 23 years in the Marine Corps band field. During that time he graduated from the Advanced Band Leaders Course at the Armed Forces School of Music and has served as band officer, enlisted band leader, and trombonist.
An accomplished musician and musical arranger, he has performed and recorded with such celebrities as Bette Midler, Al Jarreau, Lyle Lovett, Malcom Arnold and Frank Sinatra.
Harris said learning to play music is obviously the first task of the band, but that a wide variety of secondary skills are also important.
“In order for the band to play well together, each member must know where he fits in the group. More often that not, that means not trying to be the star of the band,” he said. “Playing together requires a lot of self-discipline, critical analysis and other group skills.”
The drum major of the band is junior Travis Green, of San Antonio. The senior band officer at MMA is Michael Honefenger, a fourth-year cadet from Houston. Though he’s played piano and saxophone before, Honefenger’s current instrument at the Academy is the snare drum.
“You’ve got to concentrate on working together, keeping alignment and keeping tempo,” he said. “If one person doesn’t do his part, it brings the whole band down. It takes a lot of teamwork.”
“It’s a little like learning close order drill,” said Michael Correa a sophomore flutist and first-year cadet from Chicago. “It’s disciplined marching with an instrument. Fortunately, we get a lot of opportunities to practice. There’s football games, morning colors, parades, and marches up Battalion Street at second mess every day.”
Harris said this year’s band would probably participate in more special events than in the past. In addition to local events, he planned to travel to San Antonio for the Fiesta Parade, Corpus Christi for the Buccaneer Days Parade, and to Louisiana for Mardi Gras.
He said the Academy would also be entering a state marching band competition this year sponsored by the Texas Association of Small School Bands.
CADET LEADERS in MMA’s Boy Scout Troop 22 were named during a Court of Honor, Sept. 19. They were (L-R) Daniel Evans, assistant senior patrol leader; Brian Vernon, assistant senior patrol leader; Michael Honefenger, junior assistant scoutmaster; Riki Moe, junior assistant scoutmaster, Colin Scherr, senor patrol leader; Michael Rittmueller, junior assistant scoutmaster; Steven Bouchard, junior assistant scoutmaster.
SgtMaj Frank Fonte, USMC (Ret), a drill instructor of Echo Company for three years, died Sept. 18 in North Carolina, after a lengthy battle with cancer. He is survived by his wife, Amy, and daughter, Sandie.
Fonte, 53, joined MMA in 1995 following a 30-year Marine Corps career. He served until 1998 in Echo Company, and was also coach of the MMA rifle team. Due to his illness, in 1999 Fonte was reassigned as the Academy’s assistant drill instructor and advisor to the commandant. However, he soon left the Academy that year to begin medical treatment.
Members of the Academy staff remember Fonte as having a good relationship with both his cadets and fellow workers.
“Frank had a rough exterior, but he wasn’t quite able to hide the big heart inside,” said fellow MMA drill instructor, SgtMaj Al Wilson. “He was probably the epitome of the old motto, ‘firm, fair and consistent.’ He held his cadets to the highest standard, and when they didn’t meet them, then the hammer fell. But even though he sounded mean, he was really a pussy cat inside. He was a good friend and he’s going to be missed.”
Col Tom Hobbs, now Director of Development, was Commandant Cadets and head of the Military Department in 1995 when Fonte was hired.
“He was an individual with a strong character and power of conviction - he was a strong man,” Hobbs said. “Because of his command presence and physical appearance, he was quick to get the attention and respect of his cadets. I’m sure he and Amy touched many lives positively, not only cadets, but the other families here at MMA, as well.”
Current Commandant Col Cliff Myers said Fonte had a very special relationship with many of the Echo Company cadets and their families.
“He was physically large and very gruff sounding, but he was also very supportive of his cadets, and would always fight for their causes,” Myers said. “He brought many families closer to the Academy because of the close connection he had with them.”
Those people who keep the Academy facilities working and grounds clean are (L-R) Mike Rodriguez, Dario Sosa, Raul Pacheco, David Miller, Director of Facilities, Rosendo Guerrero, Richard Valencia, Pablo Perez, Nati Lopez, Modesto Diaz, Julian Tovar, Alanzo Yanez, Sam Montalvo, Juan Delgado, Robert Ybarra, George Herrera, Hector Calderon, John Yanez, Tomas Mendoza, Salvador Yanez, Luis Alcantera, Joe Saucedo, David Lhota, Plant Maintanance Foreman, Ruben Huerta.
It didn’t take MMA long to get on the scoreboard in 2000. On September 2, MMA hosted the University of Tamaulipas.
Only 17 seconds into the game, defensive back Sean Cary intercepted a Tamaulipas pass and returned it for a touchdown. Later in the first quarter, Cary caught a 33-yard pass from quarterback, David Sanchez, for another score and MMA led 14-0.
The Leathernecks continued their assault in the second quarter when tailback, Cody Victor, scored from 24 yards out. He had 93 yards on 18 carries for the night. Also in the second quarter, Cary scored his third touchdown on an 18-yard pass from Sanchez.
Tamaulipas failed to pick up a first down in the first quarter, and didn’t get their only score until late in the game.
“It was a great way to start the season,” Morton said. “Being our first game, and playing at home, we really came out with the momentum on our side.”
Santa Rosa 33, MMA 21
September 8, a warm, humid night at Bowman Stadium, the Leathernecks faced a 3-A Santa Rosa H.S.
Still early in the season, the young Leathernecks were unable to capitalize on three occasions inside the 20 yard line. Starting tight end and defensive end, Adrian Lash, went out early with a knee injury and didn’t return. There were a few defensive breakdowns which allowed Santa Rosa to score on a 52-yard touchdown pass, seconds before half-time and take a 21-7 lead.
At the start of the third quarter Sean Ryan intercepted a Warrior pass and returned it 53 yards, only to have it nullified by a penalty. Cody Victor had a stellar night, scoring on runs of 49, 56, and 63 yards.
“We had our chances to beat Santa Rosa, but shot ourselves in the foot with mistakes,” Morton said. Coach Morton stated that the offensive line of, Adam Romero, Doo Kim, Scott Fite, Charlie Vigie, and Mike Barth are coming along, but have a lot of work ahead of them.
S.A. Cornerstone 29, MMA 12
The Leathernecks played their first day game of the season September 16, in San Antonio against Cornerstone Christian School.
The MMA defense had a difficult time stopping their experienced Warrior quarterback who passed for three touchdowns.
Quarterback, David Sanchez, passed and ran the ball with grit and determination, scoring on a 3-yard quarterback sneak. Aaron Lieber was credited with MMA’s second score in the fourth quarter on a 6-yard run.
Playing for the first time at defensive end in place of injured players were Brinson Bryan and Alex Albaum, who both turned in respectable games.
Rio Hondo 41, MMA 7
On September 21, MMA hosted the Rio Hondo Bobcats. When Coach Morton scheduled this game, he knew it would be a challenge.
“We played a good caliber 3-A ballclub that went to the playoffs last year and will probably go to the state playoffs this year. Their more experienced players made the difference,” Morton said.
For the second week in a row the Leathernecks were without the starting defensive ends, and that also made a difference. Getting some playing time at end were ninth grader Dirk Buckner and sophomore Joey Quackenbush, who split time with Russell Royce and Brinson Bryan.
Other young players who were called on to play in the important game were sophomores Rashad Shambe at cornerback, Louis Villarreal at defensive tackle, and junior Rex Covens at linebacker.
With inexperienced players facing a mature ballclub, Rio Hondo scored on its first four possesions. However, the third quarter was scoreless, and the Leathernecks found some offense in the fourth quarter when Anthony Mendoza ran for 79 yards on six carries, including a 44-yard touchdown run.
MMA 15, St. Michael’s 14
The Leathernecks traveled to Austin, September 30, to play St. Michael’s Academy and spoil their Homecoming festivities.
On their first possession, MMA marched the length of the field and scored on a three yard pass from David Sanchez to Cal Davis and Judd Hardberger’s P.A.T. was good!
With the score 7-0 at half-time, the Crusader’s mounted a third quarter drive and tied the game 7-7. In the beginning of the fourth quarter MMA fumbled at their own 4 yard line. St. Michael’s scooped the ball up and returned it for a touchdown, and took a 14-7 lead.
Late in the fourth quarter the MMA defense rallied when Cal Davis intercepted St. Michael’s at their own 24 yardline. Four plays later, David Sanchez quarterback sneaked in from 2 yards out. With under 5 minutes to go in the game, Coach Morton was faced with the decision of going for the tie or the win. On the next play David Sanchez found Cal Davis in the corner of the end zone for a 2 point conversion and the lead!
After the kickoff, the Crusaders pounded the ball down to MMA’s 21 yard line where they were faced with a fourth and two with 1:57 to play. Trying to power the ball off right tackle, the St. Michael’s running back was met by Sean Ryan, Austin LeBlanc, Brinson Bryan, Ray Mathews, Cal Davis, and a bevy of MMA defenders, as he came up 2 inches short and preserve an MMA victory!
SINCE AUGUST, members of the MMA swim team have been in the pool preparing for their competitions that include the TAPPS state swim meet in February. Team members are (kneeling, L-R) Jose Sotomayor, Lewis Harrington, (standing) Geronimo Barba, Andrew Nickerson, Jan Cristobal, Ignacio Lopez, Evan Howington, Travis Brewster, Joaquin Gonzalez, David Krauss, Cesar Barba, Mike Rittmueller, Coach Earl Gander. Not pictured, Ruben Bordes, Stanley Ferguson, Brandon Michau and Sam Smylie.
ON 19 Sept., eighth graders on the MMA Red and Gold VISA teams met in volleyball at the JV gym, with the Red team pulling out a very close 10-15, 15-10, 15-12 win. The combined team members are (kneeling, L-R) Jesse Curiel, David Rabbett, Matthew Sellke, Dustin Sellers, Cordell Dielmann, Dillon Cannon, Jose Martinez, (standing) Beau Flowers, William Elliott, Henry McFarland, Patrick Bryan, Benjamin Ferris, Gregory Norris, Alfred Johnson, Joshua Gasaway, Douglas, Lewis, Sky Bennett, and VISA coordinator LtCol Gary Andresen.
MRS. MARY Kyger sent in this photograph taken Aug. 25, 2000 at MCRD, San Diego, of four members of the MMA class of ‘99 who enlisted in the Marine Corps, and have just graduated from boot camp. They are (L-R) PFC Brook Foreman, PFC Jonathan Shirley, PFC David Hansen and PFC Ross Kyger.