Inside the Gates: The mission of military musicians
You may notice military bands marching in parades, at special events or even performing in the parks. They are key in reminding people of a military presence while belting out patriotic tunes and promoting love of country.
"There's two big important things that the band really comes into play," Sgt. 1st Class Chip Brewster with the 395th Army Band from Oklahoma said. "One is a little more on the civilian side, it's COMREL, it's community relations."
This is the version many people see during parades or other big gatherings.
"Our job there is to fill their hearts and their spirits with patriotism," Brewster said. "Really help to spread that love of country and support for the military."
On the other side, the military side, there is a different mission.
"We like to, when we can, actually get to where our soldiers, our sailors, our airmen are fighting, are doing their jobs," Brewster said. "That's when it becomes a morale mission. To instill the will to fight and win. That's really the military musician's mission."
At Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, the 9th Army "Arctic Warrior" Band is composed of soldiers who serve U.S. Army Alaska.
"The 9th Army Band has a long history in Alaska supporting military and civic functions," said John Pennell, the media relations chief for the U.S. Army in Alaska via email. "All around the state from Sitka for Alaska Day to concerts in the park in Anchorage and Fairbanks and the multitude of military ceremonies both here at JBER and at Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks. They are currently the only active duty military band in the state."
When the band goes on its block leave or vacation time, most of the unit is off at the same time. This usually occurs in the summer and around Christmas. Mission requests still come in and to help keep those going, reserve bands are brought up from the Lower 48.
"We come in, fill in for them, get a little bit of active duty time, active duty training and make sure that those missions can still get fulfilled," Brewster said.
The band from Oklahoma hasn't missed a beat since they arrived earlier this month. They've already performed in Eagle River, Fairbanks and Anchorage.
Catch them put on a show with the Anchorage Community Concert Band at the Alaska Performing Arts Center starting at 7 p.m. Thursday.
Copyright 2019 KTVA. All rights reserved.
MORE INSIDE THE GATES: