JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii --
“Men, they walked in uniforms. How could they possibly be rock stars or jazz musicians? I wasn’t even excited when I walked out of the library to step into the auditorium for a concert, but I was inspired, elated and connected by the end of it. I am still going gaga in my head, thank you for giving me one of the most memorable experiences of my first jazz concert. You are all scored on my heart. Love, your fam from New Delhi.”
These words were scribed on a piece of artwork gifted to Airmen from the U.S. Air Force Band of the Pacific from an audience member who attended their recent concert in New Delhi, India. The artwork itself, simple yet beautiful, featured a group of four bandsmen with their various instruments.
Our Air Force bandsmen have a unique mission. They support the global Air Force mission during both war and peace time by providing a wide spectrum of musical products for events that enhance the morale, motivation, and esprit de corps of Airmen, foster public trust and support, aid recruiting initiatives, and promote national interests at home and abroad.
“Air Force Bands have unique and powerful capabilities,” said Maj. Michael Hoerber, Band of the Pacific commander. “There is not a culture on earth that does not have some form of music, so we use music as a soft power tool to make positive, lasting connections to build and strengthen partnerships across the region.”
Here in the Indo-Pacific, 40 Airmen make up the U.S. Air Force Band of the Pacific, responsible for an area of operations that spans across 36 nations. They provide musical services for a range of events in the Department of Defense’s largest, and prioritized, area of responsibility. From international airshows, music festivals, schools, to cultural festivals and military functions, they are known to play popular and traditional songs at each location to enhance understanding of military operations and strengthen relationships.
“I love my job because I can use the talents and skills I've honed over decades to accomplish the mission and to serve my country in a way that is very unique,” said Master Sgt. Jeremiah True, Band of the Pacific Readiness Section Chief and Non-commissioned Officer-in-Charge of Pacific Showcase – the unit’s jazz ensemble. “Traveling and performing is a dream come true for me. Many musicians perform all over the world in various ways, but my travels allow my musical endeavors to transcend the entertainment aspect of music. We do indeed entertain, but our travels allow us to bridge cultural gaps, engage with local communities, and have a definite, tangible outcome – creating partnerships around the world.”
The band recently launched from their two different locations – Yokota Air Base, Japan and Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii – to conduct 17 performances in six different countries. From New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, South Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, and India, these Airmen traveled more than 20 thousand miles over 35 days.
Pacific Sax, Final Approach, Pacific Showcase, Hana Hou!, Small Kine, and Pacific Trends, all ensembles of the U.S. Air Force Band of the Pacific, each traveled to honor, inspire and connect with diverse audiences across the region.
While Pacific Sax traveled to New Delhi, India, Final Approach went to Vietnam, Pacific Showcase traveled to Thailand, Hana Hou! went to Papua New Guinea, Small Kine visited New Zealand and Pacific Trends went to the Republic of Korea.
In many cases, the band helps reach new audiences and areas of the region not always accustomed with U.S. military or U.S. presence. The Band’s visit to Tuyen Quang in the northern province of Vietnam was the first time a U.S. band has visited there.
“Cultural diplomacy is so powerful … music is a universal language,” said Ambassador Daniel Kritenbrink, U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam.
In other settings, the band helps enhance a historical event or ceremony, such as their performance in the Republic of Korea. Pacific Trends joined the ROK Air Force Headquarters band for their 70th anniversary celebration. The two exchanged best practices as part of a mil-to-mil subject matter expert initiative and solidified their interoperability.
The Papua New Guinea (PNG) visit included a performance for the PNG military members and family at the country’s Air Transport Wing.
“Thank you for giving us the opportunity of listening to you, and what your Air Force can do,” said Papua New Guinea Air Transport Wing Commander Lt. Col. Edward Kemo Miro. “All of our Airmen and women here will someday dream of this and we look forward to more interaction between the U.S. Air Force and the PNG Air Force.”
While some concertgoers may approach an event a bit skeptical about a military band, they are quickly inspired or even transformed through the music, which can be seen on their faces in just about any photo taken at their performances. Some audience members even take to making artwork for the band members to show their appreciation.
“This lovely piece of art simply means to me mission accomplished,” True said of receiving the piece of artwork. “My mission as a bandsman, to reach hearts and minds and bridge cultures, was accomplished, as the young artist stated. She entered our performance a bit skeptical, but something in our music ‘moved’ her, and she left with a very different perception of an American military band, and by extension, the U.S. military in general.”
The U.S. Air Force Band of the Pacific harnesses the power and energy of music – a universal language – to represent and be a symbol of the good will and presence of the U.S. Air Force, Department of Defense, and United States as a whole throughout the Indo-Pacific region.
“Music connects, honors, inspires, heals, communicates and can be understood by all peoples, regardless of their spoken language,” Hoerber said. “Thus, music is a hugely powerful medium for the Air Force to use in making the human connections that are a vital part of creating, strengthening and sustaining vital alliances and partnerships for the United States.”
For more information visit: Facebook @BandofthePacific, Instagram @afbotp or Twitter @USAFBandPacific or www.outreachrequests.hq.af.mil to request band support.