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Organized in 1946 under the command of Chief Warrant Officer Chester E. Whiting, the U S Army Field Band was originally designated the Army Ground Forces Band - to provide a presence in the nation's capital that honored the "ground" soldier in the same manner that the US Army Air Forces Band honored those serving in the Army Air Corps. In 1950, when the U S Army Ground Forces were redesignated as the US Army Field Forces, the band changed to the name that it continues to use to this day - the US Army Field Band.

This website has been created to serve as a meeting place for those who have served in the US Army Field Band - and a place where others can come to find out about the history of the band.

Related to a Field Band member?  Children, spouses and others who are related to former Field Band members are invited to join this website.  You will have full access to all material that is posted here plus receive occasional updates.  Send your request to Mike Culbertson.

We hope you enjoy the material and information that is here. If you are a former member of the band please take a few minutes to register/include your information on this website.  And, of course, stop back often to see what's been recently added to the website of the Retiree and Alumni Association of the U S Army Field Band.

PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR MORE INFORMATION/ANNOUNCEMENTS

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Joel Berman was a violinist from Detroit.  He was assigned to The AGF Band in December 1946, and separated in March 1947.  After leaving the Army he earned degrees from the University of Michigan, Juilliard, and Columbia University.  He joined the faculty of the University of Maryland in 1957, and conducted the University Orchestra as well as teaching violin and chamber music.  At the age of 92, Dr. Berman still performs with a string quartet in the Washington, DC area.

A Vanishing Soldier

On 5 July 1953, PV2 Albert Zimmerman arrived at the Field Band.  Three weeks later, SGT Harry A. Zimmerman departed Fort Meade for a ten-day tour of New England.  The two Zimmermans had the same Army Service Number, so they are the same man. But every other document I have seen calls him Albert.

SGT Zimmerman’s name is on the group travel orders for TDY trips in 1954 and 1955.  The last trip was a seven-day trip to New York City that ended on 13 November 1955.  He does not appear on morning reports after 13 November 1955.

In 1955, the admin office produced a Christmas card list for the unit.  Albert Zimmerman’s name is on that list, with an address in Baltimore.

And then Albert disappears.  His departure from the unit is not recorded in morning reports in December 1955 or January 1956.  He is not shown on a roster of the unit produced on 1 February 1956.  I don’t know whether he transferred to another unit or separated from the Army.

Does anyone remember Albert Zimmerman?  If you do, please contact Mike Culbertson, either through the USAFBRAA website or directly at mikeculb@aol.com.

2019 Reunion Photos (August 23-25, 2019)

Couldn't make it to this year's Field Band Reunion?  Check out the weekend's photos from Wayne Johnson (1969-1972) - click on Photos in upper left sidebar.  And while you're at it, visit Wayne's website to see his photographic interpretation of rural Tennessee and surrounding areas.  https://waynejohnson.smugmug.com/browse

It's not too early to start your planning fto attend the gala celebration being planned for the Field Band's 75th Anniversary in 2021.  Hoping to see everyone at the 75th!

 

Former Member of the Field Band?

All former members of the U S Army Field Band have been entered into the database for this website.  If you are a former member of the band, click on JOIN HERE (upper right), enter your name, and complete the short sign-up form.  Your name will then be forwarded to the website administrators for verification.  Once you are verified you will have full access to all parts of the webiste. 

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New Photos Available

A new photo album has been added to the website - Sgt George Boyd - The band's 1st Drum Major.

You can check it out by clicking on "Photos" in the upper left sidebar.

 

June 14th in the History of the Field Band

Please check out the PHOTOS section of our website (left sidebar) for a bit of history about June 14th.

 

Joshua Hecht - Class of 1953

Joshua Hecht, bass-baritone vocalist who sang with more than fifty opera companies during his long career, died in Sydney, Australia on 29 March 2019 at the age of 91.  Details can be found on the In Memory page (see above).  Hecht served in the Field Band from late 1951 to late 1953.

An article from the Baltimore Evening Sun (12 February 1953) anniunced that the Baltimore Civic Opera was rehearsing Jules Massenet's Manon under the direction of Rosa Ponselle, with performances scheduled for April 1953. Listed as cast members were Joshua Hecht as the Count, Eugene Coughlin as Lescaut, and Jack Marvin as Guillot.  Gene Coughlin was a baritone soloist with the Field Band from 1950 to 1957 and Director of the Soldiers' Chorus from 1957 to 1975.  Jack Marvin's son Steve retired from the Soldier's Chorus in 1996.

 

From Mike Culbertson
 
In the middle of May I attended the convention of the National Genealogical Society in St. Charles, Missouri, which is a suburb of St. Louis.  The National Personnel Records Center is located in St. Louis, so I built some extra research time into my trip.
 
The NPRC is a National Archives facility, and is the main repository for military personnel records from World War I and later.  The records I was interested in are the Field Band’s morning reports from the first half of the 1950s.  Morning reports were prepared by Army units from the very beginning of the Continental Army in 1775 until 1969, and documented arrivals, departures, promotions, demotions, unit movements, and other unit events.  For the purposes of the USAFBRAA, the most useful things are the arrivals and departures.
 
I was able to read the reports from 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, and 1956.  TUSAFB’s 1955 morning reports have apparently been lost or misfiled.  In any event, they were not available for me to look at this month.  National Archives personnel are searching for them.
 
The information I do have indicates that 21 men arrived at TUSAFB in 1955, and 14 men departed.  Here, in alphabetical order, are their names.  Those marked with single asterisks are known to be deceased.  Those marked with double asterisks are members of USAFBRAA.
 
Arrivals:  Bob Berton, Allen Cisco*, Burt Clark*, Donald Crowe**, Samuel Fricano**, Merle Gaumer*, James Holt, Oyer Johnson*, David Knighton*, John Krance*, Peter Laude*, Valentino Marconi*, Gerald Miller, Marshall Ocker*, Josef Orosz**, Richard Otto*, Harvey Phillips*, John Renzi*, Furman Riley, Glenn Salter*, Guy Webb.
 
Departures:  Cy Baylor*, Walter Cord*, Anthony DiBonaventura*, Leonard Feldman*, Allen Hanna, James Hawley, Frank Kaggerud*, William Lubis*, William McCarthy, Melvin Pontious**, Glenn Reeves, Frank Sorianello*, John Suckling*, Lloyd Weldy*
 
I would like to verify the service dates of these guys.  If you are one of those individuals, or if you know them or their families, I would love to hear from you.  You can contact me through the Class Creator website, or directly at mikeculb@aol.com.
 

The History of Taps

A YouTube video by Joe Orosz (Class of 1982) -The History of Taps.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABNPNcf5Buk

COL Jim Keene

COL Jim Keene, Commander and Conductor of TUSAFB, was recently inducted into the prestigious American Bandmasters Association.  The story below was written by Elizabeth Peace, the band's Public Affairs Officer.  It appeared in the 14 March 2019 edition of Soundoff!, the weekly newspaper of Fort George G. Meade.

FT. MEADE, M.D. – Twenty-five years ago, Jim Keene never anticipated he’d be leading the premier concert band in the country let alone doing so as a Colonel in the U.S. Army. That’s because before joining the Army, Keene’s experience was primarily with orchestras and his work as an entertainer on the piano.

The commander of The U.S. Army Field Band at Ft. Meade, Md., Keene will be inducted into the American Bandmasters Association at its annual convention in Loveland, Colo. According to Keene, the honor is due to the soldiers he works with.

“It’s humbling when you realize it really has nothing to do with you,” Keene said. “Musicians of this caliber play in spite of or because of what’s going on at the time. These amazing Soldiers have seen it all in terms of leadership from the podium, and they can take the good and ignore the bad to ensure a great performance every time. That’s something I never take for granted.”

Keene began his musical career at the age of four when he started taking piano lessons at his Albuquerque, New Mexico, home where he was born and raised. For 30 years, he took lessons while playing both piano and violin for the Albuquerque Youth Symphony and for his high school music program.

He graduated from the University of New Mexico with a Bachelor’s degree in Piano Performance before attending Southern Methodist University for his Masters degree in orchestral conducting, all through scholarships.

“I didn’t understand what I had,” he said. “I received full-ride scholarships and of course I learned later that this was something really valuable, that you have to be thankful for the opportunity. I played in operas, orchestras and musicals, and I ended up conducting a lot. I had a lot of experience in a wide variety of music, from pop music to classical music.”

Keene also had the opportunity to be the accompanist for violinists auditioning to attend Julliard and Eastman for spring auditions for several years.

“My experience as an accompanist and work at Southern Methodist University, I had the chance to meet an entire generation of violinists who then went on to perform and even lead nearly every major orchestra in the world,” he said.

Following his graduate degree, he was hired at Southern Methodist University as the assistant orchestra director. Around that time, he received a phone call that would change the trajectory of his career.

“My mom told me she met this person named Virginia Allen, a Colonel in the United States Army,” he said. “So I ended up contacting Lt. Col. Virginia Allen. She was a great representative of the Army and that initial interaction made a strong impression on me.”

It was Keene’s mom who urged him to audition as a band conductor. While not something he took seriously at first, his audition at Ft. Meade, Md. with The U.S. Army Field Band changed his mind.

“They had me at the first note. I was just amazed by their level,” he said. “I had no idea the Army had this quality of musician. I conducted a bar and I just cut off the group and I said: ‘Who are you guys?’ I said: ‘I’ll never get a better opportunity, tell me what I have to do.” Some of them still remind me of that.

“From day one, I didn’t really understand what my career would be. I just took it one day at a time. People always asked me, ‘How long are you going to stay in the Army?’ And I still say, ‘As long as I like it. As long as that what I’m doing is important.’ I am really lucky that through my career, I believe that every day is more important than the one before.”

Keene said over the last 25 years, his objective has been to figure out how music can help the Army accomplish its mission and objectives. He said like many of his colleagues in the world of music, he is focused on enduring qualities.

“Things like the Army values and connecting Americans to those who sacrifice and protect them makes a lot of sense to me,” he said. “How do we instill pride in our country? Just share the story with great pride and passion.”

Over time, he said, the nation has gone further away from its Army. He said the Army isn’t alone in that problem, that orchestras all over the world have become distant with their founding principles.

“I believe that music is something the Army can use as a tool to do anything it wants to do,” he said. “From the beginning, I instinctively understood that music is a powerful tool. Everybody stops when the National Anthem is playing. It didn’t take me long to see that it didn’t matter who they are or what rank they are, they have to salute and I’m in charge for as long as I conduct that piece.”

He said there’s a mantra that each unit carries that becomes integral to who they are and everything they do.

“For the Army Field Band, the mission when formed at the end of World War II, as the enlisted population drew down more than 10 times its size, it was obvious to those leaders that they were going to lose contact and connection with the American people. And they had amazing foresight,” he said. “We see that today. That is why the Army Field Band goes to the grassroots of America and takes the story of its magnificent Army and tells the story of American soldiers.”

As the conductor and commander of the Army Field Band, Keene said it has been an honor to be a part of the unit and take them musically to another level.

“I remain thankful and humbled when I consider how I have been able to use my abilities as a musician to serve the Army and the United States,” he said. “From multiple performances at the White House, in the U.S. Capitol, in the Supreme Court to leading thousands of performances around the nation and around the world. I have sat beside Ray Charles on the piano and have performed for six U.S. presidents. All of these experiences have happened because of the outstanding soldiers who, as musicians, have brought their talents and discipline to greatly enhance the reputation of the country.”

On March 8, Keene will conduct the U.S. Air Force Band in Loveland as part of his induction into the American Bandmasters Association.

“When I have the opportunity to be recognized by the American Bandmasters Association, I will remain thankful not only to the musicians who made this honor possible, but more importantly, to those who serve and who have served in the military on behalf of a grateful nation,” he said. “I look forward to continuing to find better ways to strengthen America and to work for greater global understanding.”

Paul Horn - Class of 1956 (from Josef Orosz)

Paul Horn began playing the piano at the age of four, the clarinet at ten, and the saxophone at twelve. He studied the clarinet and flute at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio, earning a bachelor's degree. He earned a master's degree from the Manhattan School of Music.

Moving to Los Angeles he played with Chico Hamilton's quintet from 1956 to 1958 and became an established West Coast session player. He played on the Duke Ellington Orchestra's Suite Thursday and worked with Nat King Cole, Tony Bennett and others. He scored the 1959 animated television series Clutch Cargo.

In 1960 Horn recorded for Fantasy Records with Latin Jazz vibraphonist Cal Tjader (with drummers Willie Bobo and Mongo Santamaria) for the album Latino! (originally released in 1962 and later re-released with the same title in 1992.)

Horn's Quintet produced jazz albums for Columbia and RCA Victor up until 1966. During this period, he was the subject of a David Wolper television documentary, Portrait of a Jazz Musician.

Horn became a practitioner of Transcendental Meditation.[2] He attended training at the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's ashram along with The Beatles on their 1968 trip to India. Following his experiences in India Horn's recordings moved from jazz to world and new-age music.

In 1970, he moved with his two sons Marlen and Robin from his first marriage to Lilian Yvonne Jourdan, and second wife Tryntje Baum to Victoria, British Columbia, on Vancouver Island. He formed his own quintet and recorded film scores for the National Film Board of Canada.

While well practiced as a jazz musician, many of his works defy such categorization. As well as the Inside series, he recorded other albums of jazz with musicians from a range of cultures and backgrounds including China and Africa.

He lived in British Columbia and Arizona. He was most recently married to the Canadian singer and songwriter Ann Mortifee.  Paul died at the age of 84 on June 29, 2014

Happy Birthday Devers Hall!

It's hard to believe (time flies!) but Devers Hall is 20 years old this month.  It was March 1999 that a group of dignitaries assembled to cut the ribbon at this new facility.

Shown in the photo (l to r) Col. Bruce Berwick (Baltimore District Engineer for the Army Corps of Engineers), Major General John G. "Gil" Meyer, Jr, (Chief of Public Affairs, US Army),   Hon.Togo West (Secretary of the Army), Sergeant Major (Ret) Joseph Greco (U S Army Field Band), and Col Jack H. Grogan, Jr., (Commander of The US Army Field Band).

Now everyone together..."Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday Devers Hall, Happy birthday to you!"  (No, no you're out of tune.  Let's try it one more time.)

Dr. James Badolato (from Mike Culbertson)

Recently I sent a letter to James Badolato.  After just under two years at TUSAFB (June 1962 to April 1964), he transferred to TUSAB.   He was on the music faculty at Montgomery College in Maryland for several years, and is now retired.

I received an email from him today, with the following message.  

Thanks for your letter of 8/30 re: the Field Band's outreach program.  I am, indeed, the James Badolatio who was in the band, for a year and a hlaf (I then transferred to the Army Band at Ft. Myer).  I have nothing but pleasant memories of the Field Band.

If my name will be listed somewhere would you mind using the appellation "Dr." since I have a Ph.D..

Interestingly rnough, the Field Band's leader during my tenure, Major Bierly, was a big help in my getting a doctorate since he was kind enough to allow me to transfer to "Pershing's Own."  That allowed me to go to school full-time and begin pursuit of my degree.

On a sad note: Yesterday, at Arlington Cemetery, we buried former Field Band member and my very good friend, Richard P. Ecton, timpanist.

You're in Print

In fact, we're all in print!  Thanks to the diligent efforts of Mike Culbertson, SGM Ret. (2009), each of us has a special place in Mike's book - Seventy Years on the Road.  Mike has managed to track down each of the 1770 people who have been assigned to the Field Band (and its predecessor - The Army Ground Forces Band) and provided a short snapshot of each one of us.

Seventy Years on the Road

"This book does not tell of all the concerts the band has played.  Instead, it documents the service of the more than 1770 people who have been assigned to the Field Band.  Each instrumental and vocal musician is listed, as are the off-stage performers who handled all the things required to put the tour on the road."

Included are sections about the 1st Combat Infantry Band, The Army Ground Forces Band, the evolution of the Insignia of the Field Band, listing of retirees by year, Commanders, Commissioned Officers, Warrant Officers, and Enlisted Soldiers.

You'll never read all 292 pages from beginning to end.  But you will find yourself continually picking it up to answer the question, "What was the name of the person who..." 

Available for purchase online from Lulu.com as either a paperback book ($17.50) or a downloadable PDF file ($4.99).

UPCOMING BIRTHDAYS

Gary Dailey (1975)  11/17
Carmen Russo (1900)  11/17
David A. Day (1993)  11/18
Robert Tucci (1969)  11/22
James Ross (1971)  11/23
Harry Davis (1961)  11/27
James Cash (1976)  11/29
Andrew Woodard (1974)  11/29
Louis Scarci (1974)  12/3
David Stagg (1976)  12/7
William Hall (1981)  12/10
Scott McKenzie (2016)  12/11


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