Story by 1st Lt. Kayla Haas
MARINE BARRACKS WASHINGTON, D.C – A female artillery officer will make history next week when she becomes the first woman to command the Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon.
Capt. Kelsey M. Hastings, a native of Seattle, Washington, was selected to serve as the Silent Drill Platoon Commander for the Marine Barracks Washington 2023 parade season. She will assume command on Monday, Nov. 21.
The Silent Drill Platoon is a 24-Marine rifle platoon that performs a unique precision drill exhibition without verbal cadence or commands. The Marines execute a series of calculated drill movements and precise handling of their hand-polished, 10-and-one-half pound M1 Garand rifles with fixed bayonets. The highly disciplined platoon performs as part of the historic Friday Evening Parade, Tuesday Sunset Parade, and at ceremonies throughout the nation.
“Kelsey displays a tireless work ethic and high standard of performance that makes her a stand-out performer at Marine Barracks Washington,” said Col. Robb Sucher, commanding officer of Marine Barracks Washington. “I’m excited for her to represent Marine Barracks Washington as a representative of the Marine Corps in this role.”
Hastings, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, was commissioned in May 2017. Upon graduation from the Marine Artillery Officer Basic Course at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, Hastings reported to 1st Battalion, 12th Marines aboard Marine Corps Base Hawaii where she served as a platoon commander, fire direction officer, and battery executive officer.
“It is exciting to be selected as the Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon Commander,” said Hastings. “SDP is oftentimes 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.”
In 2020 Hastings was selected to serve at Marine Barracks Washington, where she completed Ceremonial Drill School, a three-week course that prepares Barracks officers and staff noncommissioned officers for the unit’s rigorous ceremonial mission. Marines are evaluated on the fundamentals of marching, sword manual, voice commands, and uniform preparation.
Hastings will return to the Barracks’ hallowed parade deck as a veteran marcher. She served as a marching platoon commander in 2021 and a marching company executive officer in 2022 before her assignment as the Silent Drill Platoon Commander.