399th Army Band Utilizes Blackhawk Helicopters in Latest Training Exercise

By SPC Laura Lamecker- 399th Army Band
399th Army Band- Fort Leonard Wood, MO

News story photo
Photo credit: SPC Daniel Tenney
399th Army Band approaches the Blackhawk Helicopter for a "hot load".
Like all Military units, the 399th Army Band must keep its Soldiers mission-ready at all times through thorough training. On 20 October 2010, this unit took to the field to train for their downrange musical missions.

The adventure began with ground movement to the airfield. There, the 399th met with the crew from the Aviation Battalion. Soldiers loaded their instruments, their sound equipment and themselves into a Blackhawk for aero movement to the mission site. Upon arrival, the band set up a stage in the field, ready to treat a company of Soldiers in training to a lunchtime concert. F Company 795th Military Police Battalion took a break from their final FTX to enjoy an MRE and an hour-long concert from the Woodchucks, the 399th Army Band’s rock band. The Woodchucks featured a wide variety of music to please every taste in the crowd – everything from classic rock and country to modern punk and ska, as well as recent top-40 hits. Following the well-received concert, the band packed the gear back in the Blackhawk to return to the unit AO.

This unique training focused on mission-critical combat skills based on current missions in theater in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The unit utilized the vast deployment experience from its Soldiers to make this training as realistic as possible. In the past, band has performed similar situational training exercises utilizing ground movement by LMTV, but this time leaders wanted to focus on mission experiences Soldiers are more likely to see downrange. This training gave all members of the unit exposure to travel by Blackhawk, a common occurrence for bands in theater. The 399th Army Band is an organization of professional Soldier musicians, and this exercise proved their skills as both Soldiers and musicians.

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