Virginia National Guard's 29th Infantry Division Band triumphs over weather

By Staff Writer
The Stewart Houston Times

The Virginia National Guard's 29th Infantry Division Band triumphed over the weather on June 26, much to the delight of the 60 or so folks gathered to hear them at the Fort Donelson National Battlefield amphitheatre in Dover.

The 38 members of the Petersburg, Va., band were about 35 minutes into their performance of patriotic and military band music when the rain - a scarce commodity in these parts lately - decided to pour down.

Undaunted, band members moved under the new pavilion nearby and continued their concert.

Members of the band come from a variety of occupations, but they are bound together by the desire to serve the country using their unique musical abilities. Besides being accomplished musicians, the members are trained and qualified soldiers of the U.S. Army.

The band has been in existence since 1922. It originated in Roanoke as a section of the 116th Infantry Brigade's "Blue and Gray" 29th Division (so called because it included National Guard units from Maryland - Union Blue - and Virginia - Confederate Gray) along with other National Guard bands from Virginia and Maryland.

Band members joined in the assault on Omaha Beach during World War II, receiving a decoration for their valor, and also saw action in four other European campaigns.

In 1946, the 29th was inactivated. Its Virginia segment became the 90th Division Band, the "Governor's Own," a title it retained until October 1985.

That ear, it once again put on the Blue and Gray patch, this time as the band for the only light infantry division in the entire U.S. Army National Guard.

Present day missions take band members all over the Commonwealth of Virginia as well as outside its borders.

They perform in concert, marching band and small ensembles for military and civilian functions alike, with a repertoire that ranges from the classics to pop music to Broadway and motion picture hits.

The band received its present designation as the 29th Division Band in 2005.

This year, the band is conducting a mobilization readiness exercise at Fort Campbell as a supplement to the 101st Airborne Division Band as they retrain and reset from their recent deployment to Afghanistan.

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