1AD Band prepares for An End of Summer Salute

By David Burge / El Paso Times
1AD Band

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Photo credit: Victor Calzada-El Paso Times
FORT BLISS >> One of the most recognizable and busiest units at Fort Bliss wants to bring the installation and the El Paso community together to celebrate the end of summer.

Friday, the 1st Armored Division Band will put on a concert it is calling "An End of Summer Salute." The free show will be from 7:30 to 9 p.m. at Noel Field and the public is invited.

Army bands "help tie the military to its people," said Capt. Richard Winkels, commander and music director for the 1st Armored Division Band. "We are one of the commanding general's outreach tools tying the civilian community to the excellence of its division. Our excellence in our music personifies the excellence of the 1st Armored Division."

The band and its different ensembles gives about 1,100 performances a year, including funerals at the national cemetery, ceremonies, deployments and other functions at Fort Bliss and in the El Paso community.

The concert will feature a mix of patriotic, Army and popular music and even some rock and roll, Winkels said. Most of the concert will feature the entire 40-soldier ensemble. Shock Action, the 1st Armored Division rock band, will also perform some songs, and there will be highlighted soloists from the 1st Armored Division Band's talented musicians.

Sgt. Tony Wong will perform Chuck Mangione's "Children of Sanchez" on saxophone. Sgt. Peter Rice, one of the band's percussionists, will perform "Xylophone Ragtime," and the trombone section will be featured on "Blades of Toledo," which has a Spanish flair.

Videos will also be incorporated into the concert to give the history of Army bands, the 1st Armored Division and "what we represent," Winkels said.

The band will perform the "Third Army March," which was dedicated to legendary tank commander Gen. George S. Patton. The piece had been lost for about 70 years but was recently found and reworked by the U.S. Army Band, "Pershing's Own," in Washington, D.C. The 1st Armored Division Band will couple that with the marching music from the 1970 movie "Patton."

It will also perform the "Old Ironsides Division March," which was written in 1977 for the 1st Armored Division.

The 1st Armored Division Band gets some support from Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, but is mostly a self-sustaining unit. Musicians in the band do other jobs and are responsible for providing transportation, scheduling, logistics, human resource work and other tasks that keep the band going.

"We are soldiers just like any other soldiers," Winkels said. "We have to qualify on our weapon. We do PT tests — all the soldier requirements that any other soldier would do. These soldiers are held to that same standard but are also professional musicians."

Winkels said he got the idea for this concert when he was serving as the executive officer for the Training and Doctrine Command Band, then located at Fort Monroe, Va. The band would give a weekly summer concert at the mouth of the Chesapeake River, culminating with a final concert of the summer.

Here at Fort Bliss, Noel Field will provide a similar scenic backdrop with the Franklin Mountains and the historic buildings of West Fort Bliss in the background and the nice green grass of the parade field, Winkels said.

Noel Field is also large enough that it can accommodate anyone who wants to see the show, he added.

Sgt. Lorenzo Pinon is an El Pasoan who is a trumpet player with the 1st Armored Division Band. Live music is becoming a "dying art form" with the emphasis on computer-generated music these days, Pinon said.

The concert is a way to give back to the "people of El Paso" for the support they give to Fort Bliss, he said.

It is also a way for the band to showcase its skills, he said.

"We rehearse day in and day out," Pinon said. "A lot of our stuff gets tied up in memorials, change of commands, ceremonies. This is a way to showcase everyone in the band and let people see what their hard work is going to."

Spc. Patrick Nyren of South Casco, Maine, plays the euphonium, which is a smaller version of the tuba. The concert is a way to bring the El Paso public on to Fort Bliss and familiarize them with what is going on at the post, Nyren said.

"This gives us a chance to speak to the public and show them what we do," he said.

A lot of people think that playing in an Army band isn't really a job, he added.

"We are all trained musicians," Nyren said. "We are hoping to display that."

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