Southwest Florida group honors Iwo Jima anniversary, veterans

Cape Coral, FL

Guns n Hoses Pipes n Drums of Southwest Florida will honor the 69th anniversary of the iconic raising of the flag on Iwo Jima, by playing Feb. 23 at the Iwo Jima monument in Cape Coral, Fla. The American Legion ceremony will include music, fanfare and a flag ceremony. It will be the third such ceremony Guns n Hoses has participated in.

Many veterans attend, even some who served at Iwo Jima.

“It was great to see them," Legionnaire Chuck Marklin said. "We perform for their pleasure as well as in honor of the monument. ... That's what it's all about - getting these guys some recognition and keeping them around as long as we can.”

But, Marklin said, it's not just World War II veterans - the heroes he grew up watching in the movies - the ceremony, or the band, honors.

“For all the vets coming out of the service it’s something to hold on to and to keep the tradition going.”

Marklin began Guns n Hoses Pipes n Drums of southwest Florida in 2011 with friends. They would play at the funerals of those who served in law enforcement and the military.

“Since then we’ve been inundated with memorials and unfortunately some funerals ... We do play for vets coming back, we do for veterans organizations."

The band plays free of charge for military and law enforcement events. If the event is not directly tied to their mission, Guns n Hoses requests a donation, which they then turn around and donate to a cause they deem worthy. The band members receive nothing "except the satisfaction of helping out these service organizations."

"Pretty much every weekend for the last two years we’ve been busy. It’s a hobby to some people, it’s a calling to other people. ... We try to accommodate as many people as we can.”

"Part of it is: who doesn't want a free band?” Marklin laughed. The other part, he said, is between vets, police and fire departments, there's simply a lot of calls.

Marklin said there are more than 50 members, all volunteer, and those who can show up to events do, so a different lineup performs, unique to each occasion. Many are veterans and have served in law enforcement or as EMS personnel.

On the anniversary of Iwo Jima last year, about 20 played in the band. It's an exciting event for the group as "the magnitude of the monument itself and what it stands for" draw a large crowd, Marklin said.

“It’s just a great bunch of patriotic people,” Marklin said.

For more on Guns n Hoses Pipes n Drums of Southwest Florida, click here:

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