Army band offers free concert

Sponsored by the Jefferson City Concert Association, the 399th Army Band from Fort Leonard Wood will perform free of charge at 7 p.m. May 17 at the Miller Performing Arts Center.

The band’s 40 members not only perform in concerts and ceremonies at Fort Leonard Wood, but also entertain crowds through the Midwest. The band has the ability to provide smaller groups — such as jazz combos, brass quintets and even rock ensembles — to meet the needs of a variety of occasions.

Chief Warrant Officer Thomas Hager said listeners in Jefferson City will hear a variety of patriotic tunes, John Philip Sousa marches and even a song from the movie “Les Miserables.”

With more than 55 years of continuous service at its home of Fort Leonard Wood, the 399th Army Band has been on post longer than any other unit. The band was first activated in 1944 in Naples, Italy. The new unit was made primarily of personnel from the recently deactivated 6498th Army Band, successor of the 9th Calvary Band. Originally assigned 27 enlisted soldiers and no officers, the band performed at concerts, parades, dances and ceremonies throughout Italy. Later in the war, the band also played in France and Germany.

Bob Hope’s USO Show was one of the band’s major venues during its time in Germany.

Today, many of the band’s members have deployed overseas.

“We’re a pretty patriotic group,” Hager added. “Army musicians have the best job in the world. Music is our passion.”

Today, its mission includes: promoting readiness by playing music that enhances troop morale and unit spirit and supporting recruiting efforts and community relations by heightening the public’s awareness of the military.

The 399th is regularly featured at graduations, Change of Command ceremonies, retirement ceremonies, holiday celebrations, parades and sporting events on the post, as well as charitable benefits and community events in the surrounding communities.


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