Photo Information

1st Lt. Jose Toranzo, the assistant director for “The President's Own” US Marine Band, directs the graduation colors ceremony on Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., May 17, 2024. The morning colors ceremony is often the first chance for the families of the graduating Marines to observe the conduct of colors aboard a military installation.

Photo by Cpl. Zachary Foshee

"The President's Own" Assistant Director Returns To Where It All Began

29 May 2024 | Lance Cpl. William Horsley Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island

Standing outside Barrow Hall, 1st Lt. Jose Toranzo raises his baton, readying the musicians of the Parris Island Marine Band to play morning colors.

Toranzo normally directs formal concerts and chamber orchestra in Washington D.C. as the assistant director of “The President’s Own”United Stares Marine Band. However, for this performance, he finds himself leading the very band in which he began his career with in 2015.

Toranzo enlisted in the Marine Corps as a horn instrumentalist and was assigned to Parris Island after graduating the Naval School of Music. Immediately upon arrival to the unit, Toranzo started admiring the drum major position and began working towards learning that position.

“The first thing that caught my eye was the drum major— the Marine in front, with the mace marching the band,” said Toranzo. “I thought the pageantry of it was really impressive.”

Toranzo attributes striving to be a musical unit leader to his time at Parris Island as well as to the unit leaders he had at the time. Gunnery Sgt. Brad Rahrig, who was the drum major for the Parris Island Marine Band at the time, mentored him and allowed him to practice leading the band as a lance corporal.

“He afforded me the opportunity during practice sessions saying ‘hey get up here,’ and I would run up get in front of the band and spin the mace,” said Toranzo.

Moments like these were catalysts that inspired Toranzo to continue working towards the role. When Toranzo promoted to the rank of sergeant he took over the role of drum major after several years of hard work.

“It all started here,” said Toranzo. “If it wasn’t for the leadership and the pageantry of the depot itself, my time in the Marines would have been very different.”

Toranzo officially assumed his role as the assistant director of “The President’s Own” band in March after years of progressing through the fleet music program. As part of his job, Toranzo gets to travel to fleet bands and host musical clinics.

This week, Toranzo and other musicians from within “The President’s Own” traveled to Parris Island and held musical clinic, individual lessons, and combined rehearsals with the depot band to grow the musicianship of everyone involved.

Toranzo believes these clinics are important because they allow for musical collaborations at a deeper level and foster continued growth. He thinks the experience is rewarding for both sides, as the Marines of “The President’s Own” get to see the day-to-day operations of the Parris Island Marine Band and the fleet band gets to learn from some of the best musicians in the nation.

“Sharing that bond, it only makes us stronger as an occupational field,” said Toranzo.

The appreciation for the training is shared by Warrant Officer Mardia Tompo, the Officer in Charge of the Parris Island Marine Band. Tompo believes that having Toranzo’s prescence is great given his humble beginnings, the same as many of her Marines.

“It’s a full circle moment,” said Tompo. “It’s very important for my Marines to see what someone like Toranzo means for them and the Marine Corps.”

Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island