Once a Marine, always a Marine

“Honestly, enlisting in the Marine Corps was one of the best options I had at that point. I chose it and have never regretted that.”

He performed for the President of the United States and later trained as a bodyguard in Kuwait. 

Every week was a new hurdle to jump, no day was ever the same. 

Even after all those years, every day was different,”

— David Volkmar

Time spent training as a Marine will always be remembered for veteran David Volkmar.

Now teaching in an English classroom, Volkmar is able to share his experiences with a new generation of people, sewing together stories that make up a quilt of his life experiences. 

“It started when I had a friend who enlisted and was talking a little bit about it,” Volkmar said. “I actually was considering the military at first, but decided to enlist as a Marine back in ‘84 and I left the service in 2003. Even after all those years every day was different.”

In fact, the wavering rhythm of everyday life as a Marine is what led Volkmar to perform in the Corp’s band for several years. 

“Shortly after I went to boot camp my recruiter called and he knew that I was a musician and asked me to audition for the Marine Corps music program,” Volkmar said. “I was accepted but it was a lot of hard work; just because we were musicians didn’t mean we were exempt from training. We worked in gas chambers and field drills, got deployed, went to the rifle range. I [ended up getting] my 5541 [and] I was on my way to travel as a musician in the band for the Marine Corps.”

His first duty station: the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing band in El Toro, CA.

“We were the closest wing to Hollywood so we were constantly being called up to be in movies and T.V. shows,” Volkmar said. “Any time a U.S. President or dignitary flew up to the west coast we were usually the band that played honors. I ended up being stationed with the President’s own U.S. Marine band in Washington, D.C. later in my career. We were considered part of the White House staff so we played at the White House and different events at the Pentagon.”

During his nine years on the West Coast, Volkmar performed for six different presidents.

This included Reagan, both Bushes, and Clinton while they were in office, as well as Nixon, Ford, and Carter as former presidents. 

 “We went to Bill Clinton’s birthday party right before he left office outside the Oval Office and the Rose Garden, and I hadn’t met him before but he just had a really unique and ingratiating sense of humor, kind of self-deprecating,” he said. “Ronald Reagan loved the Marine Corps, so he was always great to be around. And we probably performed the most for George Bush senior because he was around on the west coast a lot during that time.”

We were the closest wing to Hollywood so we were constantly being called up to be in movies and T.V. shows,”

— David Volkmar

It was a few years into his career that Volkmar ended up realizing he had a passion for communications and English. 

“A few years into my career I started to do a lot of event narration, at one point I was doing a lot of big event narrations, like the 9/11 memorial at Carnegie Hall and even the Star Spangled Banner commemoration at Ft. McHenry where it originally flew,” he said. “I had actually been awarded the George Washington Medal for public communications for a speech that I had written, which helped me build a reputation as a speech maker and writer.”

Later working as an assistant editor and public relations manager, it seemed an English profession was a natural route to take for Volkmar. 

“Ironically becoming an English teacher was just a natural evolution,” he said. “But it all traces back to my time as a Marine. Everyday in the Marine Corps we had a plan of the day that told us what we were gonna do the next day. Now everyday I have my own plan of the day for students.”