MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- A local resident of the Jacksonville area and life-long fan of the Marine Corps was able to have a very special day courtesy of the Marines from the 2nd Marine Division Band with an invitation to their rehearsal aboard Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Sept. 29, 2015.
Amber N. Carter, of Hubert, North Carolina, always dreamed of joining the few and the proud, but she has Williamson’s syndrome, a rare condition that hindered any military service.
“I myself would love to be a Marine, but my condition keeps me from joining,” she explained. “The military risks their lives for people like me to live.”
Staff Sgt. Isaiah Riley, a regimental mess chief with 10th Marine Regiment, helped make the visit a possibility by sponsoring Amber and her family aboard the base.
“[Visits like this] need to happen often, not only for civilians, but also for the Marines as well,” Riley said. “Marines get wrapped up in their own military world. They don’t see or hear what civilians have to say or think about them and it’s a good opportunity for them to decompress a bit and be themselves.”
Amber is no stranger to the Marine Corps, having seen the likes of Camp Lejeune, Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina and MCAS New River, North Carolina, multiple times throughout her life with a step-father that served for four years. She even attended a Marine Corps Birthday Ball in 2008.
She claims that their willingness to fight for country and Corps is the root of her admiration for them, and thinks their uniforms do not look so bad either.
“They go out to the desert or wherever they have to go to fight for our freedom.” Amber said. “And they’ve got the best uniforms, they look amazing.”
Amber was greeted at the band’s command post by Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jack K. Davis, a band officer, and Sgt. Michael R. Hickey, an ensemble leader.
Hickey and his ensemble of seven Marines played a selection of short songs as Amber and her family looked on. In between songs, the band explained brief anecdotes of the band and their musical style’s history. Soon after, Amber herself joined in on the music with a tambourine.
“I’m really amazed that Marines do this stuff,” Amber said. “For me to watch it in person is overwhelming and fantastic. I really like instruments myself.”
The short ensemble concluded their performance and cleared the room for the entire band to enter, bringing in more instruments and filling the room with their music.
When Davis arrived to the rehearsal, he surprised Amber by allowing her to lead the band in the playing of “The Marines’ Hymn” by conducting their performance with a baton. She kept the baton as a memoir for her day with them, before saying farewell to the band members and thanking them for everything that they do.
“You protect me and my family,” she said. “It means a lot to me, knowing I can’t be a Marine myself. I will never forget this day.”