After a vacation for the ages with my wife and her family, we said goodbye to Virginia Beach and the Army School of Music, which had been our home for five years. We’ll always carry a lot of wonderful memories to go with the occasional headaches, but we were more than ready to move on to our next adventure – Korea. Thankfully, our flight to Korea took us through Seattle, giving us the opportunity to visit with two of our closest friends and their family before the long flight through Japan to Osan Airforce Base. When we finally did arrive at United States Army Garrison Yongsan, which is located in the Republic of Korea’s capital city of Seoul, we were excited to hit the ground running, taking very little time before wondering off base.
Did I mention why we moved to Seoul? I finally made it back to a band, taking command of the Eighth Army Band, which as it turns out with the recent deactivation of the 2nd Infantry Division Band, is now the only U.S. Military band on the Korean Peninsula. So, after a couple of weeks to in-process and get our bearings, I took command of the band from retiring Chief Warrant Officer Joe Parenteau. The only thing that stunk about the ceremony was that we had to wear the beret…
This is without a doubt, considering the size of the organization, the busiest band I’ve worked with. I’m lucky to work with such dedicated professionals day in and day out. Shortly after our arrival, we got to see one of the band’s groups (MPTs) perform at the Itaewon Festival for a large, enthusiastic crowd.
Besides taking command, the other big event for us was my promotion to lieutenant colonel, which conjured up equal parts relief (because my selection meant I wouldn’t have to contemplate life after the Army prematurely) and excitement.
The one main problem with taking command at the time I did was I had to quickly put together a program for the holiday concerts – something I normally would have done months earlier. With 2ID’s band gone, we not only did the annual Korea-America Friendship Holiday Concert at the Seoul Performing Arts Center, but also performed at the Uijeongbu Arts Center (a concert normally covered by 2ID). With both concerts, we were assisted by musicians from the 51st Republic of Korea (ROK) Army Band so we returned the favor later in the month by assisting them on their holiday concert.
Between the concerts, tree lightings, receptions, and ceremonies, the band of 50-odd musicians performed 29 jobs in 23 days, their final mission of the year being on 23 December. While I was certainly quite busy my first couple months in command, I wouldn’t have it any other way.