Musician to Marine: A Jolly Good Journey

Watching team members leave is an inevitable part of our business. Sure, some are destined for careers with us, but some have much different paths to follow.

Carmen Jolly’s path is taking her to Parris Island, and beyond.

Carmen is one of three sisters (along with Katherine and Kailey) who work in our South Carolina Warehouse. She’s also an accomplished French Horn player. She’s using that talent, married with a desire to see the world, and joining the Marine Corps Band. She leaves for what’s notoriously the toughest boot camp in the world on October 16th.

Founded in 1798, the Marine Corps Band’s mission has been to provide music for the President of the United States and the Commandant of the Marine Corps. It is the only musical organization with that mission.

“The difference between the Marine Corps Band and any other military band is that you have to go through boot camp to do it,” she said. “It shows your drive to do well in music. And they have the President’s Own Band, which is the highest level you can achieve in any branch.”

Carmen has already achieved so much through music. She’s played since she was in fifth grade, and has been a member of Dorman’s honor band, a section leader and brass Sergeant, a member of the Region band and an all-state alternate, and a member of several community bands and orchestras.

“I’ve played at Converse, at Wofford, at multiple concerts in North Carolina, at a pops theater, with orchestra groups, and in many pit settings,” she said.

She was also one of two high school students in the country to qualify for the Marine Corps Band.

At the heart of that, though, is those first two words. Marine Corps. Carmen will be a Marine first, and will have to train as such. She does have the advantage of semi-predetermined orders, but otherwise she’ll report to Parris Island just like any other Marine recruit. Her training will include weeks of physical and mental training, culminating in the Crucible, a grueling 54-hour training exercise.

It will end with her officially becoming a United States Marine.

After that, she’ll have a 10-day leave before reporting to Military Combat Training, which is also required of all Marines. Then, she’ll have a little bit of freedom.

“I’ll go to Virginia for Military Band Placement,” she said. “I’ll get to pick from three different locations, and I won’t switch around until after four years, if I choose to continue.

She’ll also have a military specialty, and while she hasn’t decided yet, she’s leaning in a particular direction.

“I would like to do patrol, so I can see where I’m going, explore a little bit and have fun, but also play music, which is what I enjoy doing,” she said.

She knows she’ll miss home, and her sisters, and said she doesn’t take for granted the opportunity she’s had to work with them for the past several months.

“It’s been really good,” she said. “I didn’t get to see them a lot because I was the only one still at Dorman. Kat had graduated, and Kailey was doing online school. It was great to be here and connect with them again, joke around and have fun, but also do our jobs.”

While there is a little nervousness that accompanies her departure, Carmen is also excited. Even with a threat from her grandfather Ron, an Army veteran.

“He says he’s going to follow me down on a motorcycle,” she laughed. “I really hope he doesn’t.”

She said she can’t wait to get started on her journey.

“I’m looking forward to meeting new people and just branching out from Spartanburg,” she said. “I’ve traveled, but I haven’t really connected with people from a bunch of different places like that before.”

Semper Fi, Carmen. See you soon.


Our team

1 comment

Beckie Stacey

Beckie Stacey

So proud of Carmen for her passion and dedication to become a member of this elite group, The Marines.
I was blessed to be her and her sisters Nanny, she was my middle little Jolly girl and and what a joy she was, although I wasn’t related I felt like they were my my grandchildren too. Thank you parents and grandparents for sharing them with me. I am so proud of them.
My love and prayers are with you sweet Carmen. I’ll always be your Beck!

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