By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterDecember 18, 2014
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (December 18, 2014) -- Nothing says the holidays like the familiar sounds of traditional classics, and Fort Rucker's own 98th Army "Silver Wings" Big Band delivered the holiday cheer with a concert Dec. 10 to ring in the season.
Hundreds came from Fort Rucker and the surrounding communities to enjoy the Commanding Generals' Holiday Concert at the post theater and also were treated with a special visit from Santa Claus.
Maj. Gen. Michael D. Lundy, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commanding general, welcomed audience members to kick off the night of holiday cheer and offered a reminder to not forget the sacrifices that Soldiers make every day so that people can enjoy the freedoms they enjoy.
"The real highlight of the show tonight is the Soldiers up on that stage and the Soldiers out (in the audience) who support us," said the general. "The "Silver Wings" band is not only a treasure for Fort Rucker, but for our community, and many of you probably don't realize how involved they are in everything that happens in the Fort Rucker community and the (Wiregrass) area.
"This band represents our Army and our post every day, and I'm very, very proud of them and want to thank them all for everything that they do because they work some extraordinary hours -- they're Soldiers by day and night," he continued. "I wish all of you a very merry Christmas and happy holidays. Thank you for joining us today to honor these Soldiers for bringing us a little delight to all of us this evening."
That delight included instrumental and vocal performances of holiday favorites like, "The Twelve Days of Christmas," "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," and the ever-popular "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch," which had many of the audience member's singing along.
The band also played a selection from one of the biggest movies of the year, "In Summer," from Disney's "Frozen," which had children giddy in their seats. Children weren't the only ones giddy on holiday cheer, however.
"I always enjoy any chance to get to see live, holiday music, and I think the band here did a great job," said Ruth Calder, military spouse. "It's not too often you get to see live music in this area, especially with a band like this that uses a lot traditional instruments. It just really brought joy to the holiday season for me."
Brunston Newmeyer, retired military, agreed, and said the mixture of new and old classics always keeps the concert fresh.
"What better way to get in the holiday sprit than with some good holiday music? I love that they work in newer music into their concerts -- that way it's a treat for the kids and the adults," he said. "Its always a good time to see the band perform during the holidays, and it's always great to support these Soldiers who are doing what they can to bring joy and happiness to the families in this community -- I just can't say enough about them."
The hard work and dedication put on by the band is the culmination of almost a half a year of work, said 1st Sgt. Gunner Chambers, 98th Army "Silver Wings" Band commander.
"Tonight is a combination of over five months of discussions, lots of rehearsing and a little bit of stress, but I am extremely proud of all of the work that has been put into this by the Soldier-musicians who are a part of the 'Silver Wings' band," he said.
The entire show was put together by the band from the support staff running the spots lights, to people carrying the equipment in and out of the venue, to the musicians on stage, said Chambers, adding that the bands dedication can only be matched by the joy they bring the concert goers.