U.S. Naval Academy
Silent Drill Team
to perform in parade

WILMINGTON, NC | For the first time since the Southeast North Carolina Veterans Parade started in 2017, the U.S. Naval Academy’s Silent Drill Team will perform its precision maneuvers as part of this year’s parade.

The marchers step off at 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023, on Third Street in downtown Wilmington. The parade follows a route along Third Street from Hanover Street to Market Street.

The Silent Drill Team, also known as the Jolly Rogers, is among about 90 units scheduled to march in the parade.

The Jolly Rogers are also scheduled to perform during pre-parade activities starting at 10 a.m. in front of City Hall on Third Street in downtown Wilmington.

The drill team is known for its precision demonstration drills featuring rifles with fixed bayonets, said Midshipman 2nd Class Brian Lee McClain of Panama City, FL, the team’s commanding officer.

“The idea and goal of the Silent Drill Team is to show the best of the United States Naval Academy Brigade’s teamwork and discipline,” McClain said. “We are exemplars of those qualities.”

The demonstration drills include team members spinning rifles, weighing a little more than 10 pounds, with fixed bayonets and throwing the rifles over their heads, he said.

“One of the things that we do, in particular, is inspection,” McClain said. “There will be an inspector who picks an individual out of the block and inspects their weapon. That shows the highest level of exhibition drill or trick proficiency.”

About the team

The team of 15 midshipmen is led through its drills by McClain, who can be seen marching out front while carrying a sword.

“I walk through spinning rifles at one point during the performance,” he said.

Twelve of the team members carry rifles. McClain and the inspector carry swords. The final team member is the guidon.

The Jolly Rogers can perform two separate routines, McClain said.

“We have one full routine that we usually do for parades at the academy,” he said. “If we’re constrained by time, like a football halftime where we’re given a specific amount of time and it’s shorter than our parade performance, then we have an auxiliary performance that is shorter on time but hits a lot of the high notes of the main performance.”

The team has two main uniforms – a black uniform with gold buttons that run up from their waists to their necks, and full white uniforms. The Jolly Rogers will be wearing their black uniforms in Wilmington, McClain said.


The Silent Drill Team was founded in 1990 by several third-class midshipmen, also known as youngsters, he said. Youngsters are the equivalent of college sophomores.

“They named themselves after a fighter attack squadron at the time,” the Jolly Rogers, McClain said.

“At the start of the team, it was mostly competition based,” he said. “Now the team does mostly public performances, but we still perform in competitions.”

About the academy

Naval Academy students are midshipmen on active duty in the U.S. Navy. They attend the academy for four years, graduating with bachelor of science degrees and commissions as ensigns in the Navy or second lieutenants in the Marine Corps. Naval Academy graduates serve at least five years in the Navy or Marine Corps.

Learn more: https://www.usna.edu/homepage.php