WARREN, Mich. -- Community outreach is important, not only for building the reputation of an organization, but also for making critical connections to the communities in which the organization operates. This belief continues to drive the work of the U.S. Army TACOM Life Cycle Management Command's community outreach efforts and is one of the main reasons the U.S. Army is committed to giving back to the community. With this as a guiding tenet, the Army Materiel Command (AMC) Brass Quintet, which was in town to play at the May change of command ceremony for former TACOM Commanding General Maj. Gen. Gwen Bingham and current TACOM Commanding General Maj. Gen. Clark LeMasters Jr., stayed a day after the ceremony to play a series of mini-concerts in the local area.
The performances, which took place on Wednesday, May 4 at the Child Development Center (CDC), U.S. Army Garrison-Detroit Arsenal, Warren; John D. Dingell VA Medical Center, Detroit; and J.A. Lanigan Elementary School, Farmington, Mich., provided young and old with an opportunity to tap their feet, move their heads to the music and enjoy a musical treat that was the Army's way of saying "thank you" to the community for its continued support.
The day started with a stop at the CDC, where children were seated on the floor of the all-purpose room. The children, ranging from 4-to-6 years old, looked curiously at the Soldiers seated in front of the room. The Soldiers smiled and began to play. Suddenly the children who had been sitting quietly on the floor came alive, smiling, singing and twirling around on the floor with the music -- in what appeared to onlookers to be a well-choreographed dance.
The next location was the Dingell VA Medical Center. The band set up in the lobby on the main floor of the hospital. The veterans, very much like the children earlier that day, danced and sang along with the quintet as the band played a medley of service songs with a little ragtime and jazz thrown in. At one point the courtyard where the band was playing was filled with veterans, medical personnel and other staff, walking by and humming to themselves, taking photos, or even singing out loud to the catchy tunes and upbeat music. One veteran in a wheelchair laughed loudly with another veteran as he explained that he was positioning himself to get a better look at the band and how proud he was to see the Soldiers in uniform.
But the pride went both ways. "Performing in the community was a real highlight for me," said Sgt. James Old, noncommissioned officer in charge of operations for the AMC Band. Getting to go the veteran's hospital and performing for those men and women was a real honor. I remember one gentlemen specifically who sang loud and proud when we played his service song. Being able to reach an audience and really see how the music affects them is very satisfying as an Army musician."
The last location was Lanigan Elementary School. At three o'clock the band began to perform before a group of K-4 students. After a brief introduction of the band members by Mark Watson, the school's principal, the more than 400 students rendered a salute to the musicians. Later, Sgt. Old explained to the students how the band planned to celebrate May 4 in honor of "Star Wars" and the famous "may the force be with you" line from the movie. As if on cue, the students shouted in unison "may the force be with you" to the band members.
Throughout the performance the students danced, sang and clapped their hands as the Army musicians played one song after another. Music filled the halls of the school and provided the perfect end to the school day.
Exhausted, but still in good spirits, the Soldiers climbed into their vehicles and departed for their hotel.
"As an Army musician with nearly 18 years of service, it's an understatement to say that I've played a lot of performances and ceremonies, but our performances around Detroit for this trip will stay with me for a very long time. Such a sincere pleasure to play for such a great community," said Staff Sgt. Jefferson Siple, one of the band members.
The U.S. Army TACOM Life Cycle Management Command, headquartered here, is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. TACOM's military and Department of Army civilians are responsible for the life cycle management of approximately 65 percent of a Brigade Combat Team's equipment. TACOM, located on the historic Detroit Arsenal, is the only active-duty Army installation in the tri-state area of Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana.