Army unit in tune with military traditions
By Senior Airman Riley Johnson, 460th Space Wing Public Affairs
/ Published February 28, 2014
BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- A Soldier dons his uniform, laces up his boots and grabs his tool of the trade. He joins his band of brothers as they march to their battlefield - a concert hall filled with music enthusiasts.
For the past 77 years, the Colorado Army National Guard 101st Army Band has been serving the state's military and civilian community through the tradition of musical performance.
"It is valuable to maintain that military tradition whether it's Army, Air Force or Marines; we support all branches," said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Nicolas Harris, COARNG 101st Army Band readiness NCO.
The band's mission statement is to provide music throughout the spectrum of federal and state military operations and instill in Soldiers the will to fight and win, foster the support of our citizens, and promote national interests at home and abroad.
The 35-piece band supports all branches of service by performing at changes of command, retirements and other official military ceremonies.
"Even for some of the more dry ceremonies, people enjoy having us there. The music just boosts everyone's spirits a little," said U.S. Army Sgt. Michael Woodard, COARNG 101st Army Band readiness technician.
The 101st has a twofold mission: to inspire morale among service members while strengthening relationships in the community.
"Our focus is always on community and Soldier support," Harris said. "We do a 10-day annual tour across the state of Colorado where we perform at public events that are free to everyone."
Acting as ambassadors for the state of Colorado and the U.S. Army, the band pays special attention to community outreach.
"We are the face of the Army National Guard," Harris said. "You normally don't see infantry soldiers out meeting people in the street, putting on shows and talking to the audience. Our goal is to put on the best face to represent the Army."
In specialized operations, the band will disperse into ensembles to match music genres to the situation. The Centennial Wind Ensemble is a ceremonial group that performs at formal events. For more casual occasions: the Mile High 101 Rock Band, 101st Army Dixieland Band and the Open Range Country Band fit the bill. With the wide variety of ensembles, members of the 101st Army Band seem to have struck their perfect chord.
"I think I have the best job in the military," Harris said. "I have the opportunity to provide honors at a funeral of someone who has fallen in combat to playing at a children's event; we get to see the full spectrum of how we impact people."