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156TH ARMY BAND
 BOSSIER CITY, LOUISIANA -

History

Summary

The 156th Infantry Band began on 4 April 1937 as the Louisiana National Guard Band. The band's 28 members were selected from the 225 member Louisiana State University (LSU) Band. LSU had a Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) and all first and second year students were required to enroll. This met the National Guard requirement for military training.

Due to the war in Europe, in 1940, the Selective Service Act was adopted and soon after, word came that the National Guard was to be federalized and called to active duty. The members of the Louisiana National Guard Band were given the choice of being discharged or remaining in the National Guard. Nine members elected to remain, resigned from LSU and joined the 108th Cavalry National Guard Band in New Orleans, LA. On 25 November 1940 the name of the band was changed to the 156th Infantry Band of the 156th Infantry Regiment, 31st Division.

The band reported to Camp Blanding, FL for a year of training. In addition to combat training, the band managed to squeeze in a good number of performances. Besides the obligatory marching band performances, the band also formed several small dance and combo groups that performed at the regimental rec hall. By nightfall on 7 December 1941, the band was assisting with guard duty along the eastern coast of the United States.

On 22 September 1942, the 156th Infantry Band left the United States aboard the H.M.S. Orantes Barrow, bound for England. The ship captain had not planned to load the band's instruments but after some encouraging, they were loaded. This was fortunate because it allowed the band to be a band, and not foot soldiers. The band arrived in Liverpool, England on 1 October 1942.

The band remained as part of the 156th Infantry Regiment but over time traveled more and more to London to perform at various venues. Finally, in January 1943 the commander, 156th Infantry Regiment received orders to release the band to Special Service Headquarters, London.

After a time, the band became known as the ETO (European Theater of Operations) Band. Throughout this time, the band commander, WO Rosato had been petitioning to increase the size of the band. In August 1943, the commanding general of ETOUSA gave WO Rosato permission to increase the size of the band to 56 members. This caused problems later because the band wasn't officially allowed to have 56 members. The solution was to split the band into two units, the 298th Infantry Band and the 300th Infantry Band. This split was on paper only, the band still functioned as a single, 56 member unit.

After the surrender of Germany on 2 May 1945, the band traveled to Germany to perform for the Potsdam Conference and the raising of the American Flag on the staff in front of the American Headquarters in Berlin. To simplify logistics, the band traveled as two separate units, the 298th and 300th Infantry Bands. The 298th traveled through France and the 300th went through Belgium.

The details and photos of this history were taken from the book, The 156th Infantry Band, by Henry P. Glaviano. This summary barely scratches the surface of the experiences of the 156th Infantry Band during WWII. The book runs over 100 pages.

The 156th Army Band was reorganized on November 19, 1976 in Bossier City, LA. On December 1, 1976 Ernest D. Peterson, Sr. was appointed Bandmaster.

Following an extensive recruiting drive, the band increased its strength to a total of 23 personnel. On June 8, 1977, they made their first appearance for the dedication of a new armory in Jena, LA for the 527th Engineer Battalion. Other performances that first year included one for the National Guard Association of the United States and dedication ceremonies for the Shreveport Fire and Police Training Academy.

In March of the next year, the band participated in their first Washington Artillery Review at Jackson Barracks in New Orleans. This review has become one of their annual performances.

On August 27, 2005, twenty-three members of the band volunteered to aid in Hurricane Katrina efforts. By 0200hrs the next morning the entire band had been activated. This was the first time the entire band had been activated since WWII. Most members of the band served four months on active duty while some served longer. The band served admirably and all who worked with them were complimentary of their work ethic and willingness to get the job done well.

Most recently, the band completed a deployment to Iraq in 2010 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn. The majority of the band performed operations at the Joint Visitors Bureau on Camp Victory. Many of the band’s members also worked for the 199th Support Battalion and Force Protection. The unit received praise for its professionalism and ability to perform very sensitive and high profile missions with little or no training. This mission included supporting billeting for the Vice President, Secretary of Defense, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other distinguished visitors.

The band has a schedule filled with performances supporting many branches of the armed forces in the state as well as various community events. They receive numerous performance requests each year and have several performing ensembles to accommodate as many as possible.

The band has performed at West Point, NY and was one of the few groups invited to dine with the cadets. In addition, the band has performed for Forces Command in Atlanta, GA; the Training and Doctrine Command in Norfolk, VA; the Fifth Army in San Antonio, TX and the Army Wide Bandmaster's Conference. The band has also had the honor of performing for the President of the United States on three separate occasions. Dedication of the National D-Day Museum in New Orleans, LA, a concert for the Medal of Honor Convention and playing for the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Belmopan, Belize, are also some of the many dedications and celebrations the band has participated in.

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