July 26, 2011

29th Division Band completes cross-border annual training

By Staff Sgt. Andrew H. Owen      
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

SANDSTON, Va. — The Petersburg-based 29th Division Band crossed several state lines June 19 to July 4 and accomplished much more than playing concerts across Virginia as it has in annual trainings past. The Citizen-Soldier musicians travelled to Fort Campbell, Ky., where they performed musical support missions and conducted Army Warrior Tasks, before heading back to Virginia where they played more concerts and changed armories.

 

The 29th Division Band performs during a July 4th parade. (Photo courtesy of 29th Division Band)

According to 1st Sgt. Fred Lewis, the band's senior noncommissioned officer, the 29th Band performed during eight change-of-command ceremonies for brigades and battalions of the 101st Airborne Division, as well as two public concerts in Kentucky and Tennessee. In between rehearsals and performances, the band found time to conduct vehicle rollover training, individual weapons qualification, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and equal opportunity briefings.

"The change-of-command ceremony for the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade was impressive, with over 1,300 troops all marching in unison to the cadences and martial music provided by the 29th ID Band," Lewis said. "The band was complimented by all the commands supported for its professional manner; they completed the mission of an active duty band with little to no train up."

 

Soldiers from the 29th Division Band perform at the change-of-command ceremony for the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade June 24 at Fort Campbell, Ky. (Photo courtesy of the 29th Division Band)


After completing their missions out of state, the band returned to Virginia where they performed community support concerts in Charlottesville, Front Royal and Staunton. The local communities and leaders of the 29th Infantry Division welcomed the band at several concerts. According to Lewis, Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Green, who was 29th ID command sergeant major at the time, attended a show in Kentucky and Tennessee and Maj. Gen. Frank Batts, 29th Infantry Division commander, was in attendance at the Front Royal performance.

The 29th was the featured band in the Charlottesville Community Band Festival, where it had over 800 members of the audience on their feet in a standing ovation for the unit. Among the selections that moved the crowd was a rendition of "American Soldier" by vocalist Sgt. Jason Hale and guitarists Staff Sergeants Troy Sisson and Jason Cain.

In addition to the over 3,000 accident-free miles travelled by the Soldiers to perform their shows, the band also managed to squeeze in time to move their base of operations from the armory in Petersburg to their new headquarters in Clifton Forge.

"This AT was a success because of the ability of the unit members to perform all their missions and they always maintained the highest standards in the public eye," said Sgt. 1st Class Richard Carr, 29th Division Band Readiness NCO.  "The band completed a hard, long AT period of musical and Army training that showcased all the talent in the personnel of the 29th Division Band."

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