Band of Pacific plays final farewell

Air Force group disbands after 70 years of playing music around the world


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Air Force Band of the Pacific Alaska Brass Band members practice for the annual “Sounds of the Season” holiday concert held at the Atwood Concert Hall in December 2012. This concert was their last big sound off before their deactivation from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. They were assigned to the U.S. Air Force Band of the Pacific, Alaska, as the only band on JBER.

U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st class Tammie J. Ramsouer

In late May, Air Force Band of the Pacific members packed their bags and said farewell to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

The Band of the Pacific provided musical support from their rock, jazz and ceremonial orchestra groups to civilians and military members on and off JBER for many events, such as memorial services and seasonal performances.

Gen. Norton Schwartz, former Air Force chief of staff, made a decision to downsize the Air Force by 10,000 Airmen.

“This detachment’s deactivation was a part of that decision,” said Senior Master Sgt. Gail Tucker, band manager and detachment chief.

The Band of the Pacific has been around since 1941, when the U.S. Army Air Corps needed an orchestra. The band performed for more than 70 years as JBER’s only band.

“The band is so vital to events that have happened in Alaska,” said Air Force Master Sgt. Mike Williams, noncommissioned officer in charge of the rock band.

The band members said that live musical support for events gives a different atmosphere for many individuals and brings out the emotion of the event. The band and its former members will always be a part of JBER’s history, they said.

“The band here is really unique and we get to represent the Air Force in many ways that are not necessarily done the same as other locations,” said Air Force Master Sgt. John Ryder, band director of operations.

The band played at many events including their “Sounds of the Season” concert, which was held every year in December. Some events they supported were for promotion ceremonies and change-of-command ceremonies.

Band members said without support from the band, many of the events will never be the same. They said people want that tempo, which only comes from live music and the atmosphere of watching an orchestra play.

“It provides an energy that a prerecorded show will never compare to,” Williams said.

Fourteen band members moved to the Lower 48 at the end of May and early June. The bases are adding more members to accommodate the Alaska band.

The band played its final concert In December 2012, but they still performed through the end of May 2013.

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