Military Wiki

The United States Marine Band performing in the White House Entrance Hall during an official visit by Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Margaret Thatcher in 1988.

There are many military bands in the United States military. Some are assigned to specific military bases or units. There are also bands associated with each of the service academies.

Ten bands are considered to be premier, with members selected by screened competitive audition prior to enlisting in the particular service. Members of these bands often come from prestigious conservatories and schools of music. Each service may designate as many premier bands as necessary, usually to fulfill different needs. The United States Marine Band and the United States Coast Guard Band stand alone for their services. The United States Air Force Band and the United States Navy Band have each designated two. The United States Air Force Academy Band and the United States Naval Academy Band serve ceremonial and entertainment purposes at those institutions, while the U.S. Air Force Band and the U.S. Navy Band provide ceremonial and entertainment elements within the Washington D.C. area. The United States Army has designated four premier bands: the United States Army Band, primarily serving within the Washington D.C. area, the United States Army Field Band under the command of the Office of the Chief of Public Affairs and serving the entire nation, the United States Military Academy Band serving as do the bands in the other academies, and the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, serving as ceremonial support but in the style of the American Revolutionary era. All ten of these bands are considered permanent duty stations.

Other bands in all services are staffed with members who have enlisted in the relevant service, then passed an audition to attend one of the armed forces' music schools. Unlike the premier bands, these members are rotated among a services' bands serving at various installations. These bands may provide support at their designated installations, but also frequently deploy to combat zones to provide support for the troops stationed there.

They perform in parades, military parades, presidential inaugurations, state funerals, State Arrival Ceremonies or seated, in concert.

United States Army Band Program

1st Cavalry Division Band - Operation Iraqi Freedom 2 Color Uncasing Ceremony Fort Hood,TX

The U.S. Army has four premier bands and thirty traditional bands spread across the globe including each of the Army's divisions, corps major armies and major training installations. These bands perform regular musical operations such as ceremonies, military balls, community outreach, parades, concerts, military graduations, and more. In recent years these bands have deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait and more in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom performing for civilians, vips, servicemembers and instances convoy, and base security.[1] The U.S. Army Band "Pershing's Own" was officially created in 1922 by General of the Armies John J. Pershing.[2] This musical organization contains over 270 personnel and ten official ensembles, including The U.S. Army Concert Band, The U.S. Army Ceremonial Band, The U.S. Army Strings, The U.S. Army Blues (big band), The U.S. Army Army Chorus, The U.S. Army Band Downrange (pop/rock band), The U.S. Army Herald Trumpets, The U.S. Army Voices, The U.S. Army Brass Quintet, and The U.S. Army Woodwind Quintet. Personnel from several elements are combined to create The U.S. Army Orchestra. The United States Army Band "Pershing's Own" has led every inaugural parade as the Official Presidential Escort since 1925.

In addition, there are eighteen US Army Reserve Bands and fifty-one Army National Guard Bands stationed in the continental United States. In total, there are approximately 5,000 Army soldiers serving in approximately 100 US Army Bands worldwide.

Special Army Bands[3]

United States Marine Band

Established in 1798 by an act of Congress, the U.S. Marine Band "The President's Own" is the oldest professional musical organization in the U.S. It is well known for its public performances (about 500 per year across the U.S.) and performances at the White House and Inauguration Day festivities. The U.S. Marine Band includes the Marine Band proper as well as the Marine Chamber Orchestra, and Marine Chamber Ensembles. John Philip Sousa led the band from 1880 to 1892. The U.S. Marine Band was headquartered at Marine Barracks Washington at 8th Street, SE and I Street, SE in Washington, D.C. until September 2004, when it moved to the new Marine Barracks Annex and Marine Band Support Facility, located at 7th Street SE and Virginia Avenue SE.

United States Navy Band

Officially designated in 1925, the United States Navy Band is composed of 172 enlisted musicians and four officers. The organization is composed of a six performing ensembles: the Concert Band, the Ceremonial Band, the Sea Chanters chorus, the Commodores jazz ensemble, Country Current country-bluegrass ensemble, and the Cruisers contemporary entertainment ensemble. The band also has several chamber music groups. The U.S. Navy Band is based at the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, DC. Captain Brian O. Walden is the current commanding officer.

United States Air Force Band

The Ceremonial Brass

The U.S. Air Force Band is part of the U.S. Air Force Bands Program,[4] which consists of 8 stateside bands,[5] 3 overseas active-duty bands,[6] and 5 Air National Guard bands.[7]

The current commander and music director is Col. Larry H. Lang.[8] Within The U.S. Air Force Band there are six performing ensembles: The Concert Band, Singing Sergeants, Airmen of Note, Air Force Strings, Ceremonial Brass, and Max Impact. Collectively, these musical groups perform a wide spectrum of styles, including classical, jazz, popular, patriotic and ceremonial music.

The band's official military life began on September 24, 1941, with the formation of the Bolling Army Air Forces Band under the sponsorship of Lieutenant L.P. Holcomb, commanding officer of the Air Base Group at Bolling Field in Washington, D.C. From 1955 to 1961, the U.S. Air Force Band was joined by the Women in the Air Force Band (WAF Band) as twin ambassadors of the USAF, though Air Force policy kept the WAF Band from overseas appearances. The WAF Band, founded as a local base band in 1951 at Lackland Air Force Base, was stationed alongside the all-male U.S. Air Force Band at Bolling from 1953 to 1957 after which the popular women's band was invited to Norton Air Force Base where they stayed until being disbanded in 1961. Some 235 women served in the WAF Band's ten-year lifespan. Today, the U.S. Air Force Band is made up of male and female airmen and is headquartered at Bolling Air Force Base.[9]

Air Force bands organize, train and deploy professional Airman musicians, harnessing the power of music to inspire immediate, positive, and long-lasting impressions of the United States Air Force and the United States of America in the hearts and minds of audiences worldwide.


  • Foster, enhance and lift the morale and esprit de corps of Airmen in the United States, outside the United States, and forward deployed locations.
  • Increase public understanding of the importance of airpower, the mission, policies, and programs of the Air Force and the bravery, sacrifice and dedication of Airmen.
  • Inspire patriotism and encourage young men and women to serve in the Air Force or other branches of the military.
  • Foster a deep appreciation of the rich history and legacy of the Air Force.
  • Strengthen relationships with a variety of publics to enhance the reputation of the Air Force as a respected professional organization charged with the responsibility for national security.
  • Advance international relationships, using music to bridge language, cultural, societal, and socio-economic differences.

United States Coast Guard Band

In March 1925, the U.S. Coast Guard Band was organized with the assistance of Lt. Charles Benter, leader of the U.S. Navy Band, Dr. Walter Damrosch, conductor of the New York Philharmonic, and "American March King" John Philip Sousa, former director of the U.S. Marine Band.

Forty years later, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Congressional legislation that resulted in the U.S. Coast Guard Band becoming the permanent, official musical representative of the nation's oldest continuous seagoing service, the U.S. Coast Guard. This event established the band as one of the ten premier service bands in the U.S.

The duties of the U.S. Coast Guard Band have greatly expanded since 1965. Originally a small command band located at the Academy and used primarily for local purposes, today the band routinely tours throughout the U.S. and has performed in the former Soviet Union as well as in England. The band represents the U.S. Coast Guard around the nation and the world, at presidential functions, and for the Secretary of Homeland Security and other cabinet officials on formal and informal occasions.

The U.S. Coast Guard Band is headquartered in New London, Connecticut.[10]

See also


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