The Marine Corps’ prestigious Silent Drill Platoon will be commanded by a woman for the first time starting Monday.

Capt. Kelsey M. Hastings will assume leadership of the 24 Marines in the ceremonial platoon, which performs precision drills without verbal cadence or commands, according to a press release issued by Marine Barracks Washington.

“Kelsey displays a tireless work ethic and high standard of performance that makes her a stand-out performer at Marine Barracks Washington,” Col. Robb Sucher, the installation’s commanding officer, said in the release. “I’m excited for her to represent Marine Barracks Washington as a representative of the Marine Corps in this role.”

A Seattle native, Hastings commissioned in the Corps in May 2017 and is a U.S. Naval Academy Graduate, according to the Marine Barracks Washington release. After training as an artillery officer, she served as a platoon commander, fire direction officer and battery executive officer with 1st Battalion, 12th Marines, at Marine Corps Base Hawaii.

She was selected in 2020 to serve at Marine Barracks Washington, the hub of the Corps’ ceremonial functions. She became a marching platoon commander in 2021 and a marching company executive officer in 2022, according to the release.

“It is exciting to be selected as the Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon Commander,” Hastings said in the press release. “SDP is often times the face of the Marine Corps, showing the world how elite and professional our organization is, and being selected to lead them is truly an honor. I look forward to working with my new Marines and being a face that a little girl can see and envision herself as.”

The Silent Drill Platoon first performed in 1948 and has become one of the Corps’ most elite ceremonial units.

The platoon’s Marines execute precise movements with their hand-polished, 10-and-a-half-pound M1 Garand rifles with fixed bayonets, according to the release.

On top of their ceremonial responsibilities, Marines in the platoon also train in the field as infantrymen.

The Marine Corps Barracks’ parade season, when the Marines perform regularly in ceremonies in the D.C. area, begins in the late spring and goes through the summer.

Irene Loewenson is a staff reporter for Marine Corps Times. She joined Military Times as an editorial fellow in August 2022. She is a graduate of Williams College, where she was the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper.

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