Monday, September 24, 2007

Perspective: 1st Armored Division Band marches off to Iraq

Above: Members of the U.S. Army 1st Armored division band perform in front of shattered windows in 2004 at the 82nd Airborne division base on the southern outskirts of Baghdad. Currently, the band is composed of one warrant officer and 39 enlisted soldiers. But along with the conventional Marching Band, various soldiers with the band have formed smaller units to perform as a separate Jazz Band, Rock Band, Country Band, Dixieland Band, Brass Quintet, Woodwind Quintet, Saxophone Quartet, Tuba Quartet, and Trombone Quartet. The band will deploy for the full fifteen months.

As the person in charge of his unit’s armory, Sgt. Jason Baker paid a visit Thursday to the small-arms shop on Wiesbaden Army Airfield.

Baker’s unit is leaving for Iraq over the next several days, and he needed to check a few things out with the gun guys.

“They were asking me, ‘What are you going to be doing down there?’ ” he said.

On the surface, that might seem like an odd question, given the enduring war and the fact Baker is a soldier. But he’s also a tuba player in the 1st Armored Division Band, which helps explain the note of disbelief at the arms shop.

First Sgt. Scott Headley likens such reactions, intentional or not, to high school jocks mocking band members.

“If that were to last for the rest of your life, then you would know what it is like sometimes to be an Army band,” Headley said. But, he added, “Folks miss you when you’re not there”...

Read the rest at Stars and Stripes

History of the 1st Armored Division Band

The 1st Armored Division "Old Ironsides" Band traces its heritage from 1943, when it was activated in the early days of World War II. To this band, however, music was often a sideline as division bands were used as infantry units during World War II. The majority of the band's time was not spent in rehearsing and performing, but in guarding supplies or headquarters installations.

The band deployed first to North Africa and participated in the first large-scale Allied invasions of World War II. Following successful completion of its mission there, the band served with the division in the Italian Campaign near Naples, advancing through Rome, the northern Apennines, the Po Valley, and southern France. Following the war, the band returned to the United States and was deactivated.

In May 1951, the 1st Armored Division was reactivated in response to the Korean Conflict. This time, instead of an entire marching band, a ten-man drum and bugle corps was formed. This corps remained at Fort Hood, Texas, and there the unique 1st Armored Division jeep-mounted band was unveiled

In 1971, the 1st Armored Division returned to Europe. The "Old Ironsides" Band followed and settled in at Monteith Barracks in Nuernberg. In 1975, the band moved again, this time to the picturesque Bavarian town of Ansbach.

With Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, the 1st Armored Division was again called into action. In December 1990, the "Old Ironsides" Band deployed to Southwest Asia where it took part in the multi-national campaign to liberate Kuwait.

Upon its return from Southwest Asia the "Old Ironsides" Band prepared again for another move. In December 1991, the band closed its doors in Ansbach and in January 1992, moved operations to Bad Kreuznach.

In December 1995, the 1st Armored Division was called to Bosnia and Herzegovina as part of Operation Joint Endeavor. On 3 January 1996, the "Old Ironsides" Band deployed to Tuzla Air Base , Bosnia , home of the Headquarters Multi-National Division (North) and Task Force Eagle. The band's mission in Bosnia was to play music for ceremonies, entertain troops from many countries, and secure the Task Force Eagle Headquarters. On 20 November 1996, the band successfully returned from Bosnia to their current home in Bad Kreuznach.

In November 1997, the 1st Armored Division Band returned again to Bosnia and Herzegovina to provide musical support to the Multi-National Division (North) as part of Operation Joint Guard and Joint Forge. Highlighting the band's second rotation to Bosnia was their performance for the Honorable Louis Caldera, Secretary of the Army, in August 1998. The 1st Armored Division band redeployed back to Bad Kreuznach on 22 October 1998.

In 1999-2000 in support of Operation Allied Force the 1st Armored Division Band provided musical support to the task force throughout Kosovo.

In 2001 the band relocated with the 1st Armored Division Headquarters and other units from Bad Kreuznach to Wiesbaden, Germany.

With the liberation of Iraq in 2003, the 1st Armored Division was once again called into action. In April 2003 the “Old Ironsides” Band deployed to Southwest Asia participating in the multi-national campaign Operation Iraqi Freedom, providing musical support of over 36,000 troops under Task Force 1st Armored Division. Highlighting the band’s operation along with over 300 musical missions, was their performance for the Honorable George W. Bush, President of the United States, Ambassador Bremer, Chairman, Joint Chief of Staff General Richard B. Myers, and other dignitaries and leaders. In July of 2004, the 1st Armored Division Band redeployed back to Wiesbaden.

From the 1st Armored Division