Total Force Band stars in parade

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Jim Verchio
  • 60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
The Air Force showed its true colors Jan. 1 here when members of the Total Force Band performed in the 114th Tournament of Roses Parade.

The band, comprised of men and women from active-duty, Reserve and Guard components, marched for the second year in a row.

"Now more than ever, it's important to show America that we're a professional fighting force," said Brig. Gen. Bradley S. Baker, commander of the 60th Air Mobility Wing at Travis Air Force Base, Calif. " I can't think of a better group of people to do that than the men and women of the Total Force Band."

To make sure the bandsmen would be able to tie the music into the six-mile march, two days of rehearsal were required to ensure all involved were on the same page of music.

"Even though we all know how to operate as a marching band, it's definitely a challenge to get 120 people who have never worked together working as one," said Chief Master Sgt. Thomas Kistler, superintendent for the Total Force Band, and band manager for the Band of the Golden West from Travis.

According to one member of the Total Force Band, marching in the Tournament of Roses Parade is almost a life-altering event.

"When you're wearing the uniform and you turn the first corner, you can almost feel the pride and patriotism emanating from the crowd," said Tech. Sgt. Ken Buchanan who plays the euphonium and who hails from Travis. A two-time veteran of the parade, Buchanan says that it is not just about the music, it is about showing America the Air Force is best air and space force in the world.

From a spectator's point of view, the band was flawless and displayed everything that is positive about today's armed forces.

"When I saw the band turn the corner, I actually caught myself holding my breath," said Mary Stevens who brought her family to the parade from Phoenix. "They sounded great, and they looked even better. My 3-year-old daughter, Brittany, waved a small American flag when they passed. (The band) made me really proud to be an American."

Travis' commander said the band's mission is just as important as the one being fought on the front lines of the global war on terrorism.

"From our [the Air Force's] inception, Hap Arnold recognized the impact the band program has on our mission," Baker said. "We operate as a total force to defeat our enemies, and the band now plays as a total force to tell the Air Force's story. The men and women of today's Total Force Band are definitely patriots in their own right."

This year's Total Force Band featured a color guard, annual award winners from Travis carrying the Total Force Band banner, 20 percussionists, 10 sousaphones, 10 euphoniums, 10 trombones, 18 trumpets, 12 French horns, 10 tenor saxophones, 10 alto saxophones, 10 clarinets and 10 piccolos.

During the six-mile parade route, the band played "The Air Force Song," "Washington Post" and "National Emblem."