By Russell Sellers, Army Flier Staff WriterAugust 24, 2011
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (August 25, 2011) -- It was a mostly clear evening as the sound of instruments filled the air around Howze Field, and Soldiers, civilians and their Families came out to enjoy a night of music under the stars.
Maj. Gen. Anthony G. Crutchfield, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commanding general, played host to the event, Music Under the Alabama Stars.
Crutchfield left all the talking and entertaining up to the 98th Army "Silver Wings" Band for the evening's festivities and joined the rest of the attendees in simply sitting out under the night sky.
CW4 Jesse Pascua, 98th Army Band commander and director, said the event was a great way for the band and the installation to show their appreciation for the Soldiers and the communities.
"A lot of times we're in a more ceremonial environment," he said. "In this case, we're more relaxed and it allows us and the audience to enjoy the show even more."
Pascua said he loves conducting and leading the band, but the show was all about giving back to the audience and making sure the band put on the best show possible.
Two new members of the band, Staff Sgt. Joel Kosmann, saxophone, and Sgt. Michaela Maxgay, French horn, said they were excited to perform for the crowd on post.
"We're new in town and we used to do this with our last unit, so it's fantastic to get to do it here," Kosmann said. "I think the smaller communities are a little more patriotic and they tend to enjoy it more. We feed off of that when they really get into it."
Maxgay said she put in some extra practice time in order to get ready for the show.
"I probably put in about an extra hour a day in addition to what we did as a band," she said.
WO1 Christopher Nicholas brought his wife, Virginia; son, Joshua; daughter, Michelle; and sister-in-law, Stephanie De La Cerda, to the event because he thought it would be a good way for the Family to spend time together and show support for the band.
"It's really great to hear a live band outside and in perfect weather," he said. "It gives us a chance to get to know the community a little better and show our support for the band. This is our first time hearing this band play."
One member of the band got a special surprise by being called up front during the show to be promoted.
Seth Ruckle was promoted from private first class to specialist by Pascua and Crutchfield while his Family, including his father, Steven Ruckle, former member of the 98th Army Band, watched.
"We're all so very proud of him," Steven said. "When he was a kid, I would never have thought he'd follow in my footsteps. It's really great to see him up there."
The program also included an Army Streamer ceremony, honoring the streamers the Army has earned throughout each war it has taken part in from the Revolutionary War through today's conflicts in the Middle East.
After the band finished playing a round of patriotic music, the 98th Army Band's rock band, Crossfire, took over and played a variety of hit songs from many different eras and genres.