Fort Bliss' music ambassadors
June 26, 2009
FORT BLISS, Texas--Woven into the fabric of American culture, exists a series of iconic images that summon strong feelings of identity and patriotism. Similarly, there has always been a bugle, fife and drum. Music has a unique quality that binds the military to the traditions of the past and enhances present day morale and community relations.
A select group of musicians get to play dual roles, splitting their time between being a Soldier and demonstrating their civilian acquired skills and talents by performing in an Army band.
"The most unique aspect about being in an Army band is that we are 'Soldier musicians'. We go through all the regular training that other Soldiers go through, in addition to using our professional experience as musicians to further the Army story, " said Warrant Officer Joseph M. Newby, 62nd Army Band commander.
At Fort Bliss, the 62nd Army Band is active in post and community parades and ceremonies, community concerts and sporting events and also honoring the nation's fallen, with daily bugle performances at the Fort Bliss National Cemetery.
With the increased presence of the 62nd Army Band in the community, Newby said the unit was keenly aware of their role in creating a positive image of Soldiers. Watching the band perform might be the only opportunity that some civilians get to see Soldiers out doing their job.
"We like to think of ourselves as the musical ambassadors to the post," said Newby.
In addition to the music mission, great stress is placed on keeping the unit current with general soldiering skills such as rifle marksmanship and battle drills. Physical fitness is also a large area of focus for the unit. They maintain a 260 out of 300 average on the Army Physical Fitness Test.
A common misconception about Army band Soldiers is the focus is solely on music, said Sgt. Hesiquio A. Tellez, trombone player and trombone section leader of the 62nd.
"We are very much a part of the Army and the soldierization process," said Newby.
As many as 10 Army bands are currently deployed to Southwest Asia, Afghanistan and Iraq, tasked with increasing the morale of their fellow Soldiers. In doing so, many Army bands are branching out of playing only traditional selections and opting for contemporary songs that Soldiers could hear on the radio.
"Soldiers get excited to hear something from home," said Tellez. "Live music really uplifts their spirits."
Often playing for other Soldiers and their families are the best moments the result from the hard work and planning.
"Some of my proudest moments have been out on the parade field," said Tellez.