Marine Capt. Evan Campbell has drill in his blood.
Growing up he saw his father command the Marine Corps’ silent drill platoon. After he himself commissioned Campbell jumped on the first opportunity he could to head to the historic Marine Barracks Washington and join the famous unit.
However, it was not the historic occurrence of father and son both leading the silent drill platoon that rocketed Campbell to fame, but just a few short steps down a flight of stairs.
On Jan. 20 Campbell escorted world-famous singer, songwriter and actress Lady Gaga to the podium where she sang the national anthem during President Joe Biden’s inauguration.
The original plan was to have Lady Gaga walk to the podium herself, but when the inauguration organizers found out the size of the dress the award-winning artist was planning on wearing, a last minute audible was called, Campbell told Marine Corps Times on Wednesday.
“There was some concern with with Lady Gaga’s, obviously very beautiful but very large dress, that she might have difficulty coming down the stairs,” Campbell said.
The Marine was selected to walk her to the podium because out of the available service members working in the distinguished guest area he was the tallest and deemed the person best capable of navigating the around her dress.
“We shared a laugh” right before walking out, the Marine said.
“She looked at me and she’s like ‘a fair warning ... we have an equal chance of tripping on this.”
Campbell said though he obviously knew who Lady Gaga was before he was assigned to escort her to the podium, her music was not exactly his type.
Though “Alejandro” may not be making any of Campbell’s playlists, he did say after watching Lady Gaga interact with everyone back stage he is now, “definitely a fan of her as a person.”
“I was truly impressed with how genuine, she was while we were inside,” Campbell said, noting that she thanked every member of the Capitol Police they saw as he escorted her to the podium.
Campbell said he was shocked at how nervous Lady Gaga was to perform, despite the numerous concert tours and shows she had performed at in the past.
“She told us inside that this was perhaps the biggest day of her life, and that she really wanted to sing for all Americans,” Campbell said.
“As a person that was an amazing thing to hear, but as a service member too, the way she prepped to sing the national anthem, obviously resonated with me very deeply as someone that’s sworn an oath to defend their country,” he added.
The Marine eventually gave Lady Gaga a few words of encouragement and at the singer’s request the two prayed together before she went out.
The 30-year-old Marine was commissioned in 2013 and has deployed once to Iraq and once to Syria as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, according to his military records, but his combat stories may not live up to his brief time with the singer.
After the song his phone was inundated with messages on every app he had, asking if it was really him who helped Lady Gaga up and down the stairs.
Because of his mask, none of his friends could be certain it was him escorting Lady Gaga down to the podium, but nearly everyone he knew was asking him about it, he said.
The mask served a second purpose, Campbell said, it provided a great recruiting moment for the Marine Corps.
“Nobody really cares that it’s Capt. Evan Campbell walking Lady Gaga, I’m more proud of the fact that everybody ties it back to, Lady Gaga escorted by United States Marine while the United States Marine Band performs,” he said.
Though the story of escorting Lady Gaga may be one the Marine tells for the rest of his life, he said it did not compare to his duties taking part in Marine Corps funerals at Arlington National Cemetery.
It was an absolute privilege escorting Lady Gaga,” Campbell said, “But I’m more afraid of not doing a family justice that just lost their service member.”
“I’ve had the privilege of being the escort commander in five company grade funerals, I’ve taken part in numerous others, those are probably way more emotional for me,” he added.