USAF Band and Honor Guard seize moments to impact communities

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Tabitha N. Haynes
  • Air Force District of Washington Public Affairs
The U.S. Air Force Band and Honor Guard, two of the Air Force's premiere performing units, have spent nearly a month honoring - and being honored - on their 2011 Fall Tour.

"We've had several audience members on this tour who have lost sons or daughters while serving in the military," said Chief Master Sgt. Carol H. Wiley, U.S. Air Force Band Singing Sergeants noncommissioned officer in charge, while she paused several times to fight her tears.

"I have witnessed personal connections between them and us - and even a sense of healing from their loss," said Wiley. "Our ability to impact our audiences on the road is profoundly memorable to me personally, and the most rewarding part of my career."

The U.S. Air Force Band is on the 2011 Fall Tour across Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska and South Dakota. The 25-day community relations tour has reached more than 13,500 Americans in the Midwest to date, with more than a week left on tour.

Along the way, the concert band, singing sergeants and U.S. Air Force Honor Guard Colors Team have taken every opportunity to reach out in the communities where they stop to perform.

The mission for the tour has been to honor veterans, inspire patriotism and showcase the global Air Force mission.

Brig. Gen. Daryl L. Bohac, Nebraska National Air Guard, assistant adjutant general, and Col. George Farfour, F.E. Warren Air Force Base vice commander, joined the mission as distinguished visitors speaking on behalf of the Air Force, Airmen serving worldwide and the U.S. Air Force Band and Honor Guard.

"They take the music and messages from home to encourage and uplift our Airmen and other servicemembers, which means so much to their family, friends and our country," said Farfour to the audience at the Cheyenne Civic Center, Cheyenne, Wy. Oct. 18.

"We represent everyone who is deployed and those serving from their communities, and I am sure our performances are a reminder of the hard work that is being done each and every day to preserve our freedoms," said Wiley.

And in the tradition of honoring veterans, the Nebraska World War II Honor Flight brought a standing ovation to the nearly 3,000 audience members Oct. 20 at the Heartland Events Center, Grand Island, Neb., when Col. A. Philip Waite, U.S. Air Force Band commander and conductor, announced their attendance.

"These are my favorite performances - when we are on the road," said Wiley. "The audiences are impacted so profoundly and you can just see it on their faces."

Additionally, the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard Colors Team accompanying had time to interact with approximately 30 Grand Island Senior High School junior reserve officer training corps cadets, Grand Island, Neb., about life in the Air Force, and the disciplines of the honor guard.

"It gives us a chance to let them know about the Air Force, our mission and show them the standards we live by," said Staff Sgt. Jon Van Deusen, U.S. Air Force Honor Guard noncommissioned officer in charge of colors training.

At the next stop on tour, the singing sergeants adjusted schedules prior to their Oct. 21 performance in Holdrege, Neb., to honor a last-minute request to perform the national anthem for the Holdrege High School Friday night football game.

"We have always been committed to reaching a younger generation," said Wiley. "We had an opportunity to present the anthem in a way that they don't often get to hear. When our schedule affords us these opportunities, we seize them."

Following the performance, the USAF Band was greeted by a visit from Rick Jeffrey, Holdrege's mayor.

The band will bring home a proclamation declaring an annual "USAF Band Day," from William R. "Bill" Malloy, Mayor of Thermopolis, Wy., as well.

"In the national capital region, our audiences are generally familiar with who we are and there is a strong military presence," said Wiley. "On the road, it is not always the same. We bring the Air Force to their community. As such, we are able to invoke pride and confidence in the Air Force and all of our armed forces."