Unit Historian: SFC Brian Eldridge • emailbiography
Band History - 1946 to Present
Celebrating More Than Seventy Years of Musical Excellence

The History of The United States Army Field BandWhile musical excellence has always been its standard, The United States Army Field Band has not always been its name. Near the close of World War II, Chief Warrant Officer Chester E. Whiting returned from overseas duty to help organize the First Combat Infantry Band. Composed entirely of Soldiers with musical talents who had served in combat in all theaters of the war, the band began an immediate mission of bolstering support for their fellow Soldiers. Initially, the band toured for a year and a half performing in community outreach concerts that also supported the sale of War Bonds. Its success earned the band the unofficial title “The Million Dollar Band.”

GEN Jacob DeverIn 1946, General Jacob Devers, commander of the Army Ground Forces, commissioned Chief Whiting to “organize a band that will carry into the grassroots of our country the story of our magnificent Army, its glorious traditions and achievements.” The First Combat Infantry Band became The Army Ground Forces Band, and performed in the nation’s capital and toured extensively around the United States. The Army Ground Forces became the Army Field Forces in 1948, and consequently the band’s name was changed to The United States Army Field Band in 1950.

Although these early years brought many name changes, the band’s mission never wavered. The Musical HistoryAmbassadors of the Army maintain this mission by bringing the American Soldier and a diverse musical repertoire to local, national, and international audiences.

The Field Band continually demonstrates its ability to change in meeting operational challenges. The development of various performing components has enhanced the band’s mission throughout the past six decades.

HistoryAs early as 1946, instrumentalists from the Musical Ambassadors doubled as the Glee Club, which soon earned the name the Soldiers’ Chorus. Witnessing one of their performances, Major General W. Preston Corderman remarked that the Chorus, “through its stirring musical renditions, is one of the most effective vehicles for bringing the U.S. Army closer to the American people.” In 1957, the Soldiers’ Chorus became a separate component of trained vocalists, performing both with and without the Concert Band in spreading the Army message.

The History of The United States Army Field BandWith the transformation of the American musical landscape in the 1960s, the unit created the Studio Band, a unique group tailored to meet the Army’s needs in reaching young people through high school performances with the Soldiers’ Chorus. As Colonel Hal Gibson recalled, “We made vast changes and our attendance figures soared.” Today, as the Jazz Ambassadors, they focus on jazz and take an active role in promoting the Army in the United States and abroad.

An emphasis on innovation sparked the 1981 formation of a component dedicated to high-energy popular music, the Volunteers. An early concentration on local commitments quickly broadened to include troop support, recruiting appearances, and school performances.

In 2013, members of the Volunteers began experimenting with acoustic instrumentation and new styles of music. Their developments were received with great enthusiasm on social media platforms and while playing for veterans around the nation. This led to the formation of The U.S. Army Field Band’s newest component. Since 2015, as ‘the most followed military band in the world”, the Six-String Soldiers have won the hearts and minds of millions of people across the globe with their infectious mix of Americana, bluegrass, and country music.

The varied and inspirational fashion in which The U.S. Army Field Band fulfills its mission sparked this comment from a fan in Durango, Colorado, which holds true for each of the band’s components throughout its history. “They remind us all that not only do we have one of the most colorful pasts of any nation in the world, but an exciting future.” The Concert Band and Soldier’s Chorus, The Jazz Ambassadors, and The Six-String Soldiers are proud to carry on their unit’s founding mission by thanking our veterans, and by bringing the story of the United States Army to people around the nation.

The Commanders - Past to Present

LTC Chester E. Whiting 1946 to 1960

LTC Chester E. Whiting

LTC Robert L. Bierly 1960 to 1966

LTC Robert L. Bierly

LTC Wilmont M. Trumbull 1966 to1968

LTC Wilmont M. Trumbull

LTC Hal J. Gibson 1968 to1974

COL Hal J. Gibson

MAJ Samuel J. Fricano 1974 to1979

MAJ Samuel J. Fricano

COL William E. Clark 1979 to 1991

COL William E. Clark

COL Jack Grogan 1991 to 1999

COL Jack Grogan

COL Finley R. Hamilton 1999 to 2007

COL Finley R. Hamilton

COL Thomas H. Palmatier 2007 to 2011

COL Thomas H. Palmatier

COL Timothy J. Holtan 2011 to present

COL Timothy J. Holtan

COL Jim R. Keene 2015 to present

COL Jim R. Keene

The U.S. Army Field Band

4214 Field Band Drive STE 5330

Fort George G. Meade MD 20755-7055

301-677-6586 |