By YVONNE JOHNSON, APG NewsJune 22, 2010
With its time at Aberdeen Proving Ground winding down, the U.S. Army Materiel Command Band conducted its final change in leadership during a change of command ceremony at the band's practice facility May 18.
Lt. Gen. James H. Pillsbury, deputy commander of the U.S. Army Materiel Command, presided over the ceremony and led the passing of the guidon as Chief Warrant Officer 4 Frederick Ellwein surrendered the position of band director to Chief Warrant Officer 4 Peter Gillies.
In keeping with the 2005 base realignment and closure act, the band will relocate to the new AMC Headquarters at Redstone Arsenal, Ala. later this year.
Guests of the ceremony included Maj. Gen. Nickolas G. Justice, commander of APG and the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command; Gary Martin, RDECOM deputy to the commander; Col. Orlando W. Ortiz, APG Garrison and deputy installation commander; Col. Thomas Palmatter, U.S. Army Field Band, Fort Meade; RDECOM Command Sgt. Maj. Hector Marin; APG Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Rodney Rhoades; and Command Sgt. Maj. Loren McClung, U.S. Army Field Band, Fort Meade.
AMC Band Sgt. Maj. Wendy Thompson served as commander of troops and RDECOM Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Jeffrey Zust delivered the invocation.
During the ceremony, Ellwein was awarded the Legion of Merit Medal for "exceptionally meritorious service" during his leadership of the band from February 2007 to May 2010. During this time, he led more than 620 missions supporting AMC and major subordinate missions nationally and internationally, including deployments into the war zone to entertain troops engaged in the War on Terror.
Pillsbury said that, "as folks in Aberdeen know and as folks in Huntsville discovered earlier this year, this is the best band in the Army."
"I've heard nothing but excellence from this band," he said, "and it starts at the top, with great noncommissioned officers and officers."
He said the band has performed worldwide for a wide range of audiences and in times of conflict, it was tasked to do even more. He thanked Ellwein's wife, Sgt. Maj. Dianne Ellwein of the National Guard Bureau and their three children.
"For the support you have given him throughout this time."
Pillsbury also welcomed Gillies and his Family to the AMC Family.
Ellwein thanked Pillsbury for his comments and the band's Brass Quintet, which provided music for the ceremony. He thanked his Family for their support and presented AMC Band coins of excellence to two exchange students from the Netherlands - Yannick Weijenberg and Nicki Ackermam - who were guest of his Family.
"I'm so glad you could join our Family today at this special event," he told them.
He told Pillsbury that he and AMC Commander Gen. Ann E Dunwoody, were "the best" in their support of and concern for the band; thanked Garrison leaders, Ortiz and Rhoades for their support, calling them, "a great influence on APG."
He commended the band members as a "great team."
"Your passion for music and your passion for delivering it are unmatched," he said. "Your patriotism is inspiring and your selfless service in accomplishing the mission has been breathtaking.
"I'm grateful to have served with consummate leaders and Soldiers and I'll never forget you."
He added thanks to Band Sgt. Maj. Wendy Thomson, calling her, "simply the finest Soldier I have ever had the honor of serving with."
"It was a tremendous honor and a complete blessing to have been team mates with you," he said.
Calling Gillies a "perfect fit for the AMC Band," Ellwein assured him that all he has to do is "tell the AMC Band what is to be done."
"Articulate your vision and that of the command," he said. "They will amaze you with the results."
Ellwein moves on to Fort Myer, Va. to lead the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (Old Guard) Fife and Drum Corps.
Gilles noted his "slightly awkward situation" in having to "pack up your Army Band and move them to Huntsville."
"The good news is that the AMC Band is not permanently folding its flag; it's simply moving to a new home," he said.
"AMC has made sure that the band has a world-class facility to move into and the city of Huntsville is eagerly awaiting the band's arrival."
He thanked Ellwein, who he has worked with for the past year, and told the band that they have "three simple goals."
"First, to respect the history and tradition of the band and to further enhance that reputation; secondly, to make the remaining time here at Aberdeen and follow-on duty at Redstone the best in the Army; and finally I will try to leave the band better than I found it," he said.
Gillies said that the band would continue to support community activities during its remaining time at APG.
Future performances include:Havre de Grace Concert in the Park, 7:30 p.m. June 25; Aberdeen Concert in the Park, 7 p.m. June 29; Cecil County Independence Day Celebration in North East, Md., noon, July 3; Havre de Grace Independence Day parade, 2 p.m. July 4; and the AMC Green Dragon Ball at Top of the Bay, 5:30 p.m. Aug. 14.