FDC applauded at 54th anniversary celebration
March 4, 2014
ARLINGTON, Va. - Lauded as a chronicler of American military music and precision, The United States Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps performed and were saluted during an anniversary observance the evening of Feb. 24 at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall's Conmy Hall.
Before four performances by separate ensembles of The Corps, Chief Warrant Officer Joseph Newby, Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps commander, told the audience the group's musicians have inspired heads of state and listeners for more than a half century and have stamped a prominent place in American military history.
"Ladies and gentlemen, The Fife and Drum Corps can quite simply be described as the soundtrack to the story of America," Newby said. "It has been our privilege to serve the regiment, the Military District of Washington, the Army and the whole country since 1960."
Once called a "marginal activity" in a June 1960 manpower control memo calling for its discontinuation, the American Revolutionary War-garbed musicians and part of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment currently perform approximately 500 times annually. The Corps has marched in every presidential inauguration parade since 1961.
On the first roster was 77-year-old FDC alumnus, retired Chief Warrant Officer and bass drummer Pete McDurmott. He remembered the group's missions as quite different during the Cold War years of the early 1960s.
"We were on provisional status for a while," McDurmott said about his two-and-a-half year tenure with FDC. "It [our existence] was dicey. We were a spare rifle platoon-a spare rifle company. Whenever a company needed us, we had to nix the instruments, and I was packing a Browning automatic rifle in the field."
Following performances by FDC's Historical Flutes, Historical Trumpets, the Fife Ensemble and The Old Guard Drum Line, McDurmott joined Maj. Gen. Jeffrey S. Buchanan, commander, Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region-Military District of Washington, Fife and Drum Spc. Daniel Wells-the youngest serving FDC Soldier-and Newby for an official cake-cutting ceremony.