Numerous locations throughout Wisconsin opened their doors to the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Band from Twentynine Palms, Calif., Sept. 16-21. This is one of 14 Marine band organizations: 12 Marine Corps field bands, the Drum and Bugle Corps and The President’s Own.
During its weeklong visit away from the desert, the Twentynine Palms Band conducted nearly 20 performances at 13 different venues rousing hundreds of high school students to continue to practice their art.
Since Nov. 10, 1775, Marines have been defending this country. Along side these warriors were the first Marine musicians, typically drummers and fifers who were generally part of the Marine Guard on Naval ships.
More than 20 years later, President John Quincy Adams approved a bill July 11, 1798, authorizing the Marine Corps to enlist members for the United States Marine Band, which later became known as The President’s Own -- the oldest organization of its kind in the country. These early bandsmen provided motivation for Marines and assisted with tactical troop movements.
As the decades passed, bands remained an active part of militaries across the globe. These units evolved into ceremonial bands, and today Marine Corps bands perform across the country in military and public ceremonies.
“This was a fantastic opportunity for our band to come out and see a top notch performance by this wonderful group,” said Stephanie Doepker, director of bands at Southwest High School in Green Bay, Wis.
In addition to performances, the band also conducted clinics with several high school bands, passing on their professional knowledge and inspiration to those still learning the craft.
“My favorite part of the day was seeing the kids’ faces after the performance was through,” Doepker said about the students coming on to the field for the clinics.
To efficiently cover some of the smaller events, the band divided into four groups -- a jazz combo, small band, woodwind quintet and brass quintet -- to accommodate more appearance requests.
Waukesha North High School, the 2007 Wisconsin State Marching Band champion, invited the small band to appear Sept. 18. The band not only showcased its more formal performance skills, but also livened up the performance with a few jazz and swing pieces.
“A lot of people think that the Marine Corps is really just infantry,” said Sgt. Julio A. Silva, a Recruiting Substation Waukesha, Recruiting Station Milwaukee recruiter. He added that units like the band help recruiters by opening new doors in the community and illustrating additional options to people considering military service.
The band’s visit culminated with its second annual appearance at the Harvest Festival in North Prairie, Wis., Sept 21, and a performance at the opening home game for the Green Bay Packers against the Dallas Cowboys at Lambeau Field.
Throughout each performance, the band was able to inspire thousands of people across the state and share the Marine Corps story and musical history, dating back nearly 233 years.