Assistant Drum Major Gunnery Sergeant James R. Holt III, of Independence, Ky., joined “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band in October 2022.
Gunnery Sgt. Holt began his musical training on saxophone at age 10. After graduating in 2000 from Simon Kenton High School, he attended Campbellsville University in Kentucky and earned a bachelor’s degree in music education in May 2005. He then enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and attended recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island.
Upon completion of recruit training and Marine combat training, he reported to the Marine Detachment, Naval School of Music in Virginia Beach, Va. to receive instruction as a saxophone instrumentalist. Following graduation from the School of Music in April 2006, Gunnery Sgt. Holt was assigned to perform with Marine Band San Diego, where his duties also included supply non-commissioned officer, information systems coordinator, and assistant small ensemble leader. In April 2009, he transferred to Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center (MCAGCC) in Twentynine Palms, Calif., for duty with the MCAGCC Band. There he continued to play saxophone and was also platoon sergeant and assistant enlisted conductor.
In December 2010, Gunnery Sgt. Holt returned to the Naval School of Music for training in the Unit Leader course of instruction, where he later graduated in August 2011. He then remained at the Naval School of Music in the role of saxophone instructor. In January 2013, Gunnery Sgt. Holt transitioned to serve as Advance Course Drum Major Instructor, Basic Course Drill Band Instructor, and Marine Detachment Platoon Sergeant. In May of 2014 he reported as newly-selected Drum Major of the III Marine Expeditionary Force Band in Okinawa, Japan.
Gunnery Sgt. Holt was deployed to Djibouti for Operation Enduring Freedom in March 2015. He served as senior range coordinator with Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) before being transferred to the U.S. Embassy in Kampala, Uganda for service as the Assistant Liaison Officer for CJTF-HOA in April 2015, and for the remainder of the deployment.
Gunnery Sgt. Holt returned to musical duties in May 2017, when he was placed as Drum Major with the U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific Band in Hawaii. In January 2020, he was appointed as a Musician Placement Director for the Marine Corps Music Program in the 1st Marine Corps District.
As Assistant Drum Major for “The President’s Own,” Gunnery Sgt. Holt leads the band in ceremonial commitments, and as the company gunnery sergeant he is responsible for unit and new member training.