77th Army Band Performs on Monday Night Football

By Mr. Keith Pannell
Ft. Sill Cannoneer

News story photo
Photo credit: (Photo by Keith Pannell)
Sgt. 1st Class Marty Schmidt, 77th U.S. Army Band drum major, holds his position as the band plays the "Army Strong" song during the halftime show of the Monday Night Football game.
More than 100,000 rabid football fans stood and cheered wildly for the warriors on the field, and they congratulated them as they left after their performance. But, these weren't the Dallas Cowboys or the New York Giants the fans were celebrating. It was the 77th U.S. Army Band and more than 700 Fort Sill Soldiers who spent nearly five minutes spread across the expanse of the football field at Dallas Cowboys Stadium during halftime of Monday night's game. The band performed the "Army Strong" song while the large groups of Soldiers, more than 300 from tunnels at each end of the field came out like an invading force and took up positions from sideline to sideline every five yards. By the time the final notes from the first song were echoing throughout Cowboys Stadium and the crowd had gone wild with cheering, the band launched into a much more somber "America the Beautiful," and the Soldiers came to attention. Midway through the song, the Soldiers bracketing the band slowly raised their hands to their eyebrows in a salute and held it there until the end of the song. If the crowd had been wild before, it exploded with unbridled patriotism at the scene of more than 700 Fort Sill Soldiers saluting them as the 77th Army Band played one of America's favorite songs in the house of "America's Team." "This is the biggest crowd I've ever performed for," said Spec. Melisa Doo, 77th U.S. Army Band clarinetist. "I thought I would be nervous. But, I was really focused and just wanted to play my best." The band and the other Soldiers on the field were high-fived by crowd members, stopped and asked to pose for pictures outside the stadium, and some were even given seats by ticket-holders who left early. For us, we got to expand the footprint of our mission on a huge scale. This added more than a hundred thousand people to our audience as we try to tell people what the Army is about and tell the Army's story," said Warrant Officer Michael Franz, 77th Army Band Chief. "Many times, people only see Soldiers on television or in the movies and tonight they saw that Soldiers are people just like them."
So, while Fort Sill's Soldiers got to see a professional football game, more than 100,000 football fans and a larger nationwide Monday Night Football audience, got to see more than 700 professional Fort Sill Soldiers.


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