Photo Information

U.S. Marine Capt. Nicholas Riggs, the executive officer for Marine Corps Recruiting Station Montgomery, speaks to band students at Fayette County High School in Fayette, Alabama, July 25, 2022. Riggs and Staff Sgt. Mardia Timoney, the Musician Technical Assistant for 6th Marine Corps District, spoke with students about leadership skills and the process to become a Marine musician. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Shannon Doherty)

Photo by Sgt. Shannon Doherty

The Success of 6th Marine Corps District's Musician Enlistment Option Program

1 Dec 2022 | Lance Cpl. Kevin Lopez Herrera 6th Marine Corps District

The Marine Corps is a warfighting organization. “Every Marine, a rifleman," as the saying goes. Among the Military Occupational Specialties offered in the Marine Corps, a small number of Marines become a true Rifleman and bear the 0311 MOS. An even smaller number of Marines, however, will be assigned to a musician’s band. It is through the Musician Enlistment Option Program that young men and women get the chance to pursue their passion for music while earning a spot within the ranks of the U.S. Marines.

The Marine Corps contains three major musical elements: the President’s Own, the oldest wind ensemble in the nation; The Commandant’s Own, the only Drum and Bugle Corps actively serving in the American armed forces; and ten worldwide Marine Corps Bands.

“As music is an essential element of culture, the Musician Enlistment Option Program is a significant mission for recruiting,” said Maj. Sean T. McCarragher, the 6th Marine Corps District's training team officer. “The strategic communication and brand awareness that is demonstrated through numerous band tours, music festivals, exhibits, and enhanced area-canvassing events demonstrate the professionalism our musicians represent. This inspires younger generations of musicians, and Americans overall, to answer the call to arms - whether that be a rifle or a musical instrument, and sometimes both.”

6th Marine Corps District, recruiting from seven southeastern states, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, is tasked to contract approximately 12 to 16 qualified instrumentalists each fiscal year. This year, the district completed its assigned MEOP mission for fiscal year 2023 on October 21, 2022. The completion of this mission early in the year came largely from the district’s Musician Technical Assistant, Gunnery Sgt. Mardia Timoney, and from the efforts of recruiters across district.

Gunnery Sgt. Timoney, a native of Coppell, Texas, enlisted in the Marine Corps in October 2009 and attended Marine Corps Recruit Training at Parris Island. Upon graduation from the Naval School of Music (NSM) at Virginia Beach, Virginia, in September 2010, Timoney served as the clarinetist for III Marine Expeditionary Force Band in Okinawa, Japan. In January 2014, Timoney attended the Unit Leader Course at the NSM. After completing the course, she served as the Clarinet Instructor and led woodwind quintets, clarinet quartets, and ceremonial bands for the school. For her final year at the school, she served as the Platoon Sergeant and the Detachment Gunnery Sergeant for the Marine Detachment, NSM before arriving at 6MCD as the MTA.

As the district’s MTA, she is responsible for overseeing the coordination and management of 6MCD’s MEOP, and provides guidance, operational support, and audition screening throughout the district. Timoney and Marine recruiters work hand-in-hand in coordinating events and school visits to reach the next generation of war fighters and musicians. She makes it a mission to not only talk with the students in the classrooms, but also play music with them and build rapport with the many band directors across the district, delivering the Marine Corps message through music and in a language musicians understand and appreciate.

“I know it can feel intimidating for most Marine recruiters to go into the band rooms and music classes and talk about something that you are not comfortable with. As well as for the students when they see me in my dress blues uniform talking ‘Marine Corps,'” said Timoney. “So, I provide a direct service to the band by further amplifying the curriculum that they deliver, as well as creating a better sense of trust. This opens an opportunity for the canvassing recruiters and station commanders to focus on collecting names and building those relationships.”

As the MTA, Timoney understands the relationship between finding the next generation of Americans willing to join a warfighting organization, while still pursuing their interest in music. “ recruiting we have the opportunity and the responsibility of finding the new generation of qualified musicians,” said Timoney. “It is this constant machine of finding new musicians that will replenish the ranks of Marine musicians and the next generation of war fighters.”

Timoney’s time at 6MCD is coming to an end; she will be attending the Warrant Officer Basic Course in Quantico, Virginia in January. Her contributions and impact to 6MCD’s MEOP mission, however, will resound for years to come.

“Her unmatched work ethic is reflected in the district’s mission attainment, which is leading all the other districts throughout Marine Corps Recruiting Command MCRC in this mission. Her relentless pursuit to mission success is also apparent in her passion for music and supporting the men and women inspired to be a part of the team,” said McCarragher. “The Marine Corps Band could not find itself a finer future officer to join the pinnacle of the most elite military band throughout the world.”

“I am deeply appreciative to all the recruiters, the command groups, and 6MCD headquarters. We really do look out for each other because we know what it takes to be the top achievers in MCRC; we need to be in this together,” said Timoney. “I am appreciative to every single one of the people whom I have met, and those who decided to pursue becoming a Marine musician. I enjoyed being a part of the Pacesetter team, and I cannot wait to have a chance to work with you all in the future.”

If you are interested in continuing your musical career among the Few and the Proud, you can contact your local Marine Corps recruiter, or visit

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