Air Force Band mobilizes its largest contingent in its history

  • Published
  • By 1Lt. Esther Willett
Multiple waves of bandsmen flooded New York City over the Fourth of July holiday in the largest mobilization of the band's history.

154 Airmen, including 122 bandsmen, 4 honor guard members, 8 drivers, supporting crews, and senior leaders attended and performed at seven events to represent the Air Force in honor of Independence Day from July 1-5.  

"We followed what we call a strike package concept where we send several groups to one area and try to hit unique demographics and unique settings, hopefully reaching every pocket of America," Chief Master Sgt. Jenn Pagnard, the Air Force Band's chief of marketing and outreach said. "We are impacting the global community, honoring veterans and inspiring others to service."

The logistical planning for the trip began last May and involved coordinating flights, bus schedules, and hotel reservations in addition to delineating uniform and equipment requirements.

Six coach buses and two five-ton box trucks hauled Airmen, musical instruments, and sound equipment from Washington D.C. to the heart of New York City, according to Master Sgt. Blake Arrington, a clarinetist with the Concert Band who doubled as an operations officer for this trip.

The lodging and traveling logistics were only the beginning. The real challenge involved coordinating the performance details. 

"We had multiple missions on multiple days," Arrington said. "It was a lot of moving parts at the same time."

The tour included performances for NBC's "Today" show, Fox 5's "Good Day New York," and the Macy's Fourth of July fireworks show. Additionally, the Singing Sergeants performed the National Anthem and renditions of "God Bless America" at three major league baseball games while the Honor Guard posted the nation's Colors.

"Normally on a tour we would have one person to coordinate all the details." Arrington said. "But when you're working with Macy's, there are so many different entities to coordinate."

Weather also poses unique challenges for the musicians.

"As professional classical musicians, obviously our preference is to be indoors in a climate-controlled hall," Master Sgt. Christian Pagnard, a trumpeter with the Concert Band said. "In summertime, you have sweating and heat issues. When I play and sweat is running down my face, it's hard to hold the mouthpiece in place. But we're professionals and we get it done."

The hard work required to pull off a trip this big definitely paid large dividends for the Airmen.

"The hours of preparation pay off the minute the performers step onto the stage and completely surpass the audience's expectation. You see the audience, including veterans, singing along," Arrington said. "It's an honor to represent our fellow Airmen in such a big way."