JOINT BASE ANACOSTIA-BOLLING, D.C. --
The U.S. Air Force Band celebrated the 23-year career of its chief enlisted manager, Chief Master Sgt. Michael Piersol, in a retirement ceremony held on May 26th at the historic Hangar 2 on Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C.
Originally from Williamsburg, Ia., Chief Piersol’s Air Force career began in 1997 as a trombonist with the Band of the Golden West, Travis Air Force Base, California. Prior to joining the Air Force, he earned a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Florida State University in 1995, and a Master of Arts degree from the University of Iowa in 1997.
Chief Piersol joined The U.S. Air Force Band in Washington, D.C. in 2000, where he served first served one year as trombonist in the Ceremonial Brass, followed by 15 years as a member of the Concert Band. He eventually became the Concert Band flight Chief and the Chief of Operations before becoming the Band’s chief enlisted manager in 2017.
Some of Chief Piersol’s performance highlights include appearing as a featured soloist on three U.S. Air Force Concert Band nationwide tours, numerous audio and video broadcast recordings, and the dedications of the Air Force Memorial and the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial.
One of the more notable performances occurred on a Concert Band public relations tour in 2011. As Chief Piersol recalls, “It was actually a series of concerts, where the trombone section was featured on an arrangement of Malagueña on a Concert Band tour from Washington state to Nebraska. Performing with Senior Master Sgts. Nudell, Rosengaft, and Heltzer was the highlight of my career. We had an absolute blast preparing and performing that solo for thousands of people across the country.”
In addition to the Concert Band and Ceremonial Brass, Chief Piersol had the opportunity to perform with the brass quintet, Blue 82, and sing as a tenor vocalist with the Singing Sergeants. He was also afforded an amazing opportunity to perform with one of America’s most prestigious jazz ensembles.
Chief Piersol explains, “Another performance that stands out in my mind occurred in April of 2013 with the Airmen of Note. It meant the world to me to perform with the greatest big band for our nation’s heroes on the organization’s first in-house Honor Flight concert. That was an incredibly impactful performance as we began a unique veteran outreach initiative.”
Transitioning from performer to manager, Chief Piersol realized how exceptional and specialized the U.S. Air Force Band was as a unit. He states, “I was able to gain a better understanding of the unique capabilities and impact each of our incredible ensembles possess. Each flight has their own micro-culture and dynamic that contributes to the overall success and culture of the Band. I also got to witness and appreciate the wealth of talent and creativity that exists throughout the entire organization.”
As the U.S. Air Force Band’s Chief Enlisted Manager, Chief Piersol was responsible to the Band commander for the oversight of operations, logistics, publicity, resource management, training and readiness for the 183-member unit.
Serving as Band Manager, Chief Piersol acquired meaningful insights and valuable lessons, both professionally and personally. He explains, “I loved serving as Band Manager because it put me in a position to affect the most people. Professionally, it sharpened my organizational skills, and helped develop my ability to analyze complex problems or situations, and arrive at the best possible solutions. Personally, I was able to develop deeper relationships with people I never would have interacted with, were it not for the position I was in.”
Looking back on his three years as the Band’s Manager, Chief Piersol reflects, “My sincere hope is that I’ve been able to help shape a healthy organizational culture and workplace environment by setting a positive example in terms of integrity, serving and caring deeply for others, and a total commitment to excellence.”
Chief Piersol was a positive and dynamic role model for many members in the unit, including his successor as the chief enlisted manager, Chief Master Sgt. Patrick McDermott.
“Chief Piersol was a generous mentor and leader, as well as a close friend. He was a role model of strategic thinking, knew how to build and lead collaborative teams, and a relentless advocate for our people and mission. I could not have asked for better training and guidance as I transitioned into the Chief Enlisted Manager position. He is a very special person, Airmen, and friend to both me and the entire unit,” Chief McDermott explains.
Chief Piersol had many profound impacts on the unit throughout his career in the various roles he played. There is one impact that made the most impression on Chief McDermott.
He states, “The creation of the Band Development Guide was Chief Piersol’s crowning achievement. It's an accessible, thorough, and well-structured handbook that will guide new members and supervisors well into our future.”
As Chief Piersol begins a new chapter in Iowa with his family, he had some parting words for The U.S. Air Force Band. He states, “I wish everyone the very best as they continue to make a lasting impact on our nation by using the power of music to honor, inspire, and connect the Air Force to audiences around the world.”
We wish Chief Piersol the very best in his future endeavors, and thank him for his 23 years of excellence, integrity and service to the U.S. Air Force Band and the U.S. Air Force!