'Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps' marks 50th year
February 18, 2010
ARLINGTON, Va. (Army News Service, Feb. 18, 2010) -- The Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps celebrated its 50th anniversary with a ceremony Saturday on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall.
The Fife and Drum Corps, founded Feb. 23, 1960, was created as an official ceremonial escort to the U.S. President. It was a one-of-a-kind unit.
The unit's musicians - part of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment -- recall the days of the American Revolution as they perform in uniforms patterned after those worn by the musicians of Gen. George Washington's Continental Army.
One of the highlights of this weekend's celebration was a brand-new 22-person show dedicated to Fife and Drum Corps alumni, drawing music from the past 50 years.
Another highlight was a speech by Lt. Gen. David Huntoon Jr., now director of the Army Staff, and a former 3rd U.S. Infantry commander. He spoke of how proud he was to have served in the regiment with the corps and how their contribution to the Army and nation is incalculable, remaining both relevant and timeless.
"For fifty years now, your remarkable musical team has brought the authentic sights and sound of 19th-century martial music to millions around the globe in a way that is never forgotten, always memorable," Huntoon said. "From the White House South Lawn to Summerall Field, from the Edinburgh Tattoo to Twilight Tattoo, and from fife and drum workshops to regional musters, this wonderful unit is simply the best-you always take it to the bank."
The ceremony added a special edge to the performance, explained Master Sgt. Richard Rolls, the current longest-serving member of the Fife and Drum Corps.
"When General Huntoon mentioned to me, 'You guys obviously brought a little something extra to this performance,' he summed it up well for me in his speech, 'the corps is committed to the memory of patriot sacrifice, and to honoring those who have continued the unbroken chain of duty, sacrifice and service to this day.'"
The 50th Anniversary Celebration was full of personal significance for the current corps members.
"It was a grand moment of validation for having endured the many difficult growing pains and strenuous ceremonies that have been the substance of my Army career," said Rolls.
"The 50th was basically an awesome, big family reunion. It's a great feeling to be in the right place at the right time," said Sgt. 1st Class Donald Francisco, a fifer. "It is an honor to be in this unit; it is also very humbling."
"Being the newest member of the Fife and Drum Corps, the 50th Anniversary Celebration kick-off was quite eye-opening," said Spc. Jessica Barrows. "Having the opportunity to talk to many of the past members of the corps and hearing about their experiences while serving was incredible; it made me realize the hardships that the corps has been through and surpassed, as well as the many honors it has received.
"It made me very honored and excited to be part of such a unique, successful unit and I can't wait to see what the next 50 years will bring."
This year the Fife and Drum Corps will perform a series of special concerts, a tour of musters (gatherings of similar-period marching ensembles) and a special tattoo written for the anniversary.