By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterOctober 12, 2016
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- The touch of class added by the 98th Army "Sliver Wings" Band to countless ceremonies and events over the past 60 years are a part of the fabric of Fort Rucker, but the times, they are a changing.
The 98th Army Band performed its swan song when it cased its colors and inactivated during a ceremony at the U.S. Army Aviation Museum Sept. 30.
But it isn't the day the music died at Fort Rucker. The music will live on in the form of a 12-person detachment from the Maneuver Center of Excellence Band at Fort Benning, Georgia, that will remain on post, which will include a brass quintet and popular music ensemble, according to CW2 Daniel Parker, 98th Army "Silver Wings" Band commander.
After the colors were posted, and a video on the history and impact of the band was played for the hundreds in attendance, Col. Shannon T. Miller, Fort Rucker garrison commander, spoke about the significance of the ceremony.
"Today is filled with a lot of heartfelt emotion, as we have to bid farewell to a unit that has touched so many lives and has been a part of Fort Rucker and the Wiregrass community for over 60 years," Miller said. "Our band has been the beacon of light on Fort Rucker, and their presence is felt at countless events each and every year. These Soldiers, both past and present, have served faithfully, representing Army Aviation, representing Fort Rucker and representing the Army with their honor and distinction."
Throughout the years, the band has sent troops to war, welcomed them home, marched with troops during changes of command, entertained Soldiers and family members during countless events, graduated thousands of Army Aviators and paid tribute to heroes who have died in service to the nation, she added.
"They are the sounds of Fort Rucker. They embody the great determination of our Soldiers. They embody the devotion of our civilians, and the memories of all those who have lived, served and died here in this great community for the past six decades," said the garrison commander. "Today, we give our most sincere gratitude to a unit that has positively impacted the men and women of Fort Rucker. Today, we celebrate their place in the legacy of Fort Rucker and Army Aviation."
Parker said that although the casing of the colors for the band is a bittersweet moment, he's happy with the history and legacy that the band leaves behind.
"It's an honor to be the last commander, but I know that it's not about the work that I've done or the legacy that I have, but the legacy of the Soldiers who have been serving this organization for decades," he said. "I wanted to become a commander to help facilitate others' talents and skills, so to be able to be a part of that, and to see other people flourish and to see other people serve their communities and their fellow Soldiers through music is where I get the pleasure."
For fellow band member Staff Sgt. Christine Permenter, her time in the band has been not only a learning experience, but a chance for her to grow.
"It's been really amazing," she said. "Being a part of more and more ceremonies, I got to see a lot more and experience a lot more. I just feel like during my time here I was able to grow so much more as a musician and a performer, so it's meant a lot."
Permenter headed the band's rock band and said she will have fond memories of performing at Freedom Fest, where the band had the responsibility of entertaining thousands during one of Fort Rucker's most popular events.
"Freedom Fest is something I'll always remember," she said. "It's a lot of time, a lot of effort, a lot of energy and a lot of work, but it's so worth it and I loved every minute of it."
Miller wrapped up the ceremony by addressing all past and present 98th Army "Silver Wings" Band members.
"Thank you for 62 years of faithful duty -- job well done! The sounds and chords of your service will continue to echo in the halls of Army Aviation for generations to come," she said.