Band commander reflects before departure

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Katherine Windish
  • 11th Wing Public Affairs
United States Air Force Band members will soon say goodbye to their leader, Lt. Col. Alan Sierichs, who took command in June 2009, as he heads to secretary of the Air Force, Public Affairs to be the officer overseeing all Air Force bands.

"Like most kids I thought I would be a major league baseball player," said Lt. Col. Alan Sierichs, United States Air Force Band commander. "By my late teens I realized that being a trumpet player would be a much more fulfilling life than a third baseman."

The Baton Rouge, La., native began playing the piano at eight years old and the trumpet at 10 years old.

"Growing up in Baton Rouge made all the difference in the world," said Colonel Sierichs. "The Southern Louisiana culture is so rich with musical influences that I was surrounded by music of all types."

He has overseen and conducted many performances while in the Air Force Band, including concerts for the United States president and vice president, secretary of defense, secretary of the Air Force and many other senior leaders and foreign dignitaries.

"The first goal of any leader of this organization is to continue the excellence," said Colonel Sierichs. "This band is known worldwide as being a premier band, a band of excellence. The next goal is to push the boundaries and do more."

Colonel Sierichs certainly pushed boundaries when the jazz ensemble, Airmen of Note, recorded their holiday soundtrack which became number two on the jazz music charts, making the United States Air Force Band the first military band to receive that kind of commercial recognition since World War II.

"It's a great band," said Colonel Sierichs. "There are great artists here. If the other bands are the major leagues, these are the All Stars."

Before being the band leader for the Air Force Band his previous assignments included the United States Air Force Academy Band in Colorado Springs, Colo.; Chanute Air Force Base, Ill., Yokota Air Base, Japan; Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass.; and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

"You always have great people that have tremendous influence on your life," said Colonel Sierichs. "Luckily, I had two of those, two great music teachers who taught me so much."

Colonel Sierichs' love for music was evident as he continued his musical educational through middle and high school, mentored by music teachers.

After high school, Colonel Sierichs attended Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, La., and earned a bachelor of arts in music education. After LSU graduation, he earned a master of arts in music performance from Boston University.

After enlisting in the Air Force in 1981, he was assigned as a trumpet player to the Strategic Air Command Band at Minot Air Force Base, N.D. Colonel Sierichs contributes his becoming a band leader to Lt. Col. Loren Johnson, former SAC Band commander.

"When it all started, I didn't think I would be doing this," said Colonel Sierichs. "At the time I was happy being a trumpet player."

Colonel Johnson persuaded Colonel Sierichs to follow in his footsteps and apply for the competitive position. The trumpet player was chosen over more than 60 other applicants and was commissioned in 1985.

Colonel Sierichs was moved by the unique mission of the United States Air Force Band and feels the ceremonial brass mission in Arlington National Cemetery is the most meaningful he has been a part of.

"Our ceremonial brass goes out to Arlington almost every day, in all weather, to provide final honors to our fallen Airmen," said Colonel Sierichs. "The significance of that mission alone is inspiring. The honor of being able to do that is not something any of us take very lightly."

He is also inspired by the work the Band does in a deployed environment, doing motivational and morale building performances for deployed members. He was especially proud of his band members going above and beyond during a recent tour in the Southwest Asia area of responsibility.

"Celtic Aire performed at their scheduled performances but didn't stop there," he said. "They went to the hospitals, flight lines, fire departments, to all the servicemembers who couldn't leave their mission to see the shows, and performed for them at their duty section. These Airmen surpassed their mission; they traveled a long way and overcame a lot of obstacles - that's powerful."

The colonel's record-breaking tenure will culminate in a change-of-command ceremony 10 a.m. June 1 in Gabriel Hall. Lt. Col. A. Philip Waite from the Office of the Secretary of Defense Public Affairs will assume command.