By Mitch Meador, Fort Sill TribuneDecember 6, 2018
FORT SILL, Oklahoma (Dec. 6, 2018) -- If you were watching TV coverage of former President George H.W. Bush's casket being loaded onto Air Force One in Houston Dec. 3, you may have caught "The Pride of Fort Sill," the 77th Army Band, playing for the occasion.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Bridgette Brenmark said in a phone interview that the band rendered honors by playing "Hail to the Chief," the hymn "Eternal Father," and "The Navy Hymn," in tribute to the former president's service as a torpedo bomber pilot in the Pacific Theater during World War II.
She said the tasking was a possibility the band had been aware of for a while. The hosting parties provided a bus to carry 28 Soldier musicians from Fort Sill to Houston. Their work isn't done yet. Although the band commander can't say what else they're doing, they will be part of ongoing activities that will keep them down south for the rest of the week.
"We're just happy to be one of the many entities involved" in the celebration of George H.W. Bush's life, she said, adding that "being there and playing honors is for us an incredibly important thing that we can do as an Army band. It's an incredible honor to be a band rendering honors."
There were a lot of festivities she wasn't able to see because as conductor she was facing the band, but Brenmark said, "Knowing what was going on meant a lot. It definitely stuck out in my mind as the family (was) walking by."
Being a part of a moment in history "was a really neat thing. It was really great to be working with the honor guard and to be out there with them. It was really very special for us," she said.
At Fort Sill, a gun crew honored the memory of President George H.W. Bush with a 21-gun salute. Crew members fired one round every 30 minutes Dec. 3, from 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Bush died Nov. 30, at age 94. President Donald Trump sent Air Force One to Houston Dec. 2, to transport the casket containing his remains to Washington, D.C.
The plane -- called "Special Air Mission 41" while carrying the casket -- arrived at Ellington Airport the afternoon of Dec. 2, and took the former president on his last trip to the nation's capital Monday.
The presidential jet landed at Joint Base Andrews, Md. A black hearse arrived Dec. 3, and an eight-person team removed the flag-draped casket as another band played "Ruffles and Flourishes" and "Hail to the Chief." The president's son, former president George W. Bush, and his wife, former first lady Laura Bush, led the Bush family aboard the blue and white jumbo jet.
Members of the House and Senate attended an arrival ceremony Dec. 3, at the U.S. Capitol. Bush lay in state in the rotunda until the morning of Dec. 5. During that time, mourners paid their respects to the 41st president of the United States.
His casket was placed on the Lincoln Catafalque, the same pine board box on which rested the coffin of President Abraham Lincoln after his assassination in 1865.
Family and friends gathered at the National Cathedral in Washington for the Dec. 5, funeral service. Subsequent ceremonies were planned in Houston; Spring, Texas, and College Station, Texas.
Bush was taken to his home of Houston, where the body lay in repose at St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Houston from 8:45 p.m. CST Dec. 5 until 8 a.m. today. The church is holding a second memorial service for the former president at noon today.
This afternoon, a motorcade will take Bush's body to Union Pacific Railroad Westfield Auto Facility. From there, a funeral train will transport Bush to Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, the site of the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, where he will be laid to rest.
Bush will be buried next to his wife and former first lady Barbara Bush, who died in April, and his daughter, Pauline Robinson "Robin" Bush, who died in 1953, at just 3 years old.
For those who want to pay their respects, the Bush family requested that donations be made to the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University to "help ensure that President Bush's legacy of public service with integrity is perpetuated."