At least 10 Marines will stand guard at the gates of the Marine Barracks on Thursday, as Capitol Hill residents open their Christmas stockings and enjoy a day off work.
In an interview on the 6-acre compound, Hill Now spoke with three Marines who will be on duty Christmas Day.
Cpl. Joe Grilo, 24, will miss a low-key day of presents with his wife, who’s expecting their first child in February.
“After being on post more than three years, I’ve missed so many holidays,” Grillo said.
The Florida native will supervise Lance Cpl. Alec Andrzejek and Lance Cpl. Jake Andrzejek, 20-year-old twin brothers in their first year at the 8th and I street SE barracks.
Standing on post for 8 to 12 hours any day of the year is just part of the job, Jake Andrzejek said.
“Everybody who serves, they miss an important day, whether it’s a holiday or a birthday,” he said.
He and his twin, who share a room in the Marine Barracks Annex, will be absent from a day of church and family meals in their native Minnesota.
The long shifts can be monotonous, the infantry Marines admitted. Conversations with neighbors help break up the day.
“People come up and talk with us,” Grilo said. “It’s a good way to pass some time.”
Sympathetic neighbors have offered the Marines food and drinks as they stand guard, and the new Barracks Row business District Doughnut brought a whole box of treats.
“I’ve had people offer me a beer from The Ugly Mug, though obviously I can’t take that,” Grilo said.
The Marines are allowed to take store-bought sweets, but homemade Christmas cookies might not be in their future on Thursday.
“If it’s homemade, we can’t necessarily accept it,” Jake Andrzejek said.