I've never seen a Soldier in uniform before. I can't believe the Army cares enough about us to send you guys out here to play for our little town — Man outside of Amarillo, Texas.
FORT SILL, Okla. (July 6, 2023) - Go to any ceremony on Fort Sill, be it a change of command, colors casing or senior leader promotion and you’ve probably heard some wonderful music — music ranging from the Army Song to pop hits and even the Mandalorian theme. This inspirational music is provided by one group — Fort Sill’s own 77th Army Band.
The 77th Army Band, a distinguished musical unit of the United States Army, has a long and illustrious history, serving a multitude of duties and responsibilities throughout its existence, said band leader, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Martin Johnston.
Originally established as the 308th Band on November 1, 1912, the unit was later rebranded as the 77th Army Band on October 1, 1943. Although the 77th was not always stationed at Fort Sill, there has been a band here since the post's inception in the 1860's. The 77th has continued that legacy since 1955. Over the years, it has played a vital role in supporting the Army's missions and representing the military at prestigious national and international events.
At the heart of the band's responsibilities lies its primary duty - providing musical support to the Fires Center of Excellence and its various units. The talented musicians of the 77th Army Band are skilled in various genres, ranging from concert band and marching band to jazz ensembles, rock bands, and ceremonial music. They captivate audiences at military ceremonies, parades, concerts, and public events held across the state and beyond.
However, said Johnston, its role has recently expanded to engaging with local communities and help with accessions. By organizing concerts, outreach programs, and educational initiatives, the 77th Army Band fosters positive relationships between the military and the public. It plays an integral role in joint performances with civilian musical ensembles, promoting cultural exchange and forging partnerships that strengthen ties within the broader community.
While their performances inspire and motivate Soldiers, their families, and the general public, it’s through their exceptional musical talent and professionalism, the band also contributes to recruitment efforts, showcasing the rewarding opportunities the Army offers not only to aspiring musicians but other occupational specialties as well.
In reflecting on the band's efforts during the holiday season, Johnston shared a poignant encounter that highlighted the impact of their community engagements. The genuine appreciation expressed by a gentleman outside of Amarillo, Texas, moved to tears at the sight of Soldiers in uniform, encapsulated the significance of their outreach. Johnston acknowledged the band's dedication and emphasized the deserving nature of their recognition during the holiday season.
"’I've never seen a Soldier in uniform before. I can't believe the Army cares enough about us to send you guys out here to play for our little town.’” And that was all their work," Johnston said pointing to the members of his band.
In recognition of their unwavering dedication, exceptional performances, and consistent surpassing of expectations, band members were honored with an Army Commendation Medal by Col. Michael Stewart, the brigade commander of the 434th Field Artillery Brigade. Expressing his admiration for the band's achievements, Stewart acknowledged their remarkable accomplishments and praised their commitment to the mission.
“Success has a thousand fathers, and failure is an orphan, and today, as I look at each and every one of you, it's clear that this band's achievements are a testament to the greatness of this team,” said Stewart. “To the tireless dedication of each band member, your hard work has not gone unnoticed. Your continuous dedication and exceptional performances make me immensely proud. Thank you for your unwavering commitment and for consistently exceeding expectations. I cannot express my gratitude enough."
Members of all Army bands undergo rigorous training prior to joining the military in their respective musical specialties, refining their skills as instrumentalists and performers. All are required, unlike other military occupational specialties, to audition and pass a musical assessment before even joining the military. Many band members serve as instructors, mentors, and leaders in Army music programs, sharing their knowledge and experience with fellow Soldiers.
In times of war or national emergencies, the 77th Army Band remains flexible and adaptable. While its primary function lies in ceremonial and musical outreach support, band members can be called upon for operational deployments. Whether providing musical accompaniment in combat zones or contributing to humanitarian missions, the band demonstrates unwavering dedication to the Army's overarching mission.
As the 77th Army Band continues to uphold its rich legacy, it stands as a testament to the Army's commitment to excellence in both music and service. Through their remarkable performances, unwavering support, and engagement with communities, the talented musicians of the 77th Army Band embody the spirit of the U.S. Army and its enduring pursuit of excellence.
"This band has been here longer than any of us. It’s been here since Fort Sill was a calvary post,” Stewart said. “It's truly wonderful to have you as part of our team, and we appreciate the incredible work that you all do. You continue to excel in your performances, and I am extremely proud of each and every one of you."