9th Army Band brings military music to Anchorage
If you’ve been to a military ceremony in Alaska, chances are you’ve heard them play. The 9th Army Band will soon be making music all around Anchorage.
Recently, the band moved from Fort Wainwright down to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, or JBER.
The band was facing cuts when the army downsized last year, but it’s the only military band in Alaska– so leaders worked to save it.
“We’ve always had a band. We want to continue that. We don’t want to lose those traditions that we have in our military,” said Lt. Col. John Gaivin, commander of the 17th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion.
The move also expands the Army band’s audience.
“We consider the 9th Army Band Alaska’s military band,” said Gaivin. “They’re going to be supporting the Air Force and the Coast Guard and the National Guard.”
“The tradition that they bring, the celebration that they add to all our ceremonies and not just on the installation but just in the local community too,” said Col. George Dietrich, JBER commander.
It’s a big change for the band members. They numbers are growing, from 35 to 42. French horn player Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Wallace said music elevates the ceremonies in which they perform.
“When you bring the marches, when you play the national anthem, it really adds another whole dimension of emotion and pageantry to everything the military does,” he said.
Beyond their military mission, Wallace said the band is also a big part of community outreach efforts. He’s excited to have the chance to perform for more people in the Anchorage community.
“I can take what was a big part of my life before I joined the Army, as just a civilian and a person, and I can serve my country that way,” said Wallace.
It took three semi-trucks to move all of the 9th Army Band’s equipment from Fort Wainwright to JBER. The band will travel back to Fairbanks and to other communities around the state as part of its mission supporting Alaska’s military.
Correction: In an earlier version of this story, Col. Dietrich was identified as a general. This has since been amended.