Menu

History

THE UNITED STATES ARMY FIELD BAND FROM WASHINGTON, DC
Unit Historian: Sgt. 1st Class Brian Eldridge • email
Alumni Events Team Leader: Master Sgt. Brad Danho • email
75th Anniversary Logo
Band History - 1946 to Present
Celebrating More Than Seventy-Five 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.
HistoryAlthough these early years brought many name changes, the band's mission never wavered. The Musical Ambassadors 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 seven 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.

In 2021, The U.S. Army Field Band celebrated its 75th anniversary. Thousands of concerts after is establishment in 1946, The United States Army Field Band continues to connect America to its Army by telling the Army story and honoring our Soldiers and Veterans as the Musical Ambassadors of the Army.
We welcome alumni of the Field Band, as well as those of the First Combat Infantry Band and the Army Ground Forces Band as we celebrate our "Diamond Anniversary" of 75 years of service to our country. Continue reading to find articles, interviews, pictures, videos, and audio posted as we dig into our archives and connect with alumni to unveil more details of our storied organization.
As we continually find new gems hiding in our history, we hope our valued alumni can help us to uncover stories of your service to our organization. We also hope that you will drop us a line to let us know how to contact you as we plan alumni celebration events. We need your help in collecting anecdotes, images, interviews, and insight into our history to share with all of our extended Field Band family.
To be added to our contact list, please visit the questionnaire below, or contact our Alumni Events Team Leader, Master Sgt. Brad Danho • bradford.j.danho.mil@mail.mil. We look forward to hearing from you, hearing your stories, and reliving the days that led our organization to where it is today!

Alumni Google Form
Origins: The Americal Division
Salute to the Americal Division
Origins: The Soldiers' Chorus

THE COMMANDERS - Past to Present
LTC Chester E. Whiting 1946 to 1960
LTC Chester E. Whiting
1946-1960
LTC Robert L. Bierly 1960 to 1966
LTC Robert L. Bierly
1960-1966
LTC Wilmont M. Trumbull 1966 to1968
LTC Wilmont M. Trumbull
1966-1968
LTC Hal J. Gibson 1968 to1974
COL Hal J. Gibson
1968-1974
MAJ Samuel J. Fricano 1974 to1979
MAJ Samuel J. Fricano
1974-1979
COL William E. Clark 1979 to 1991
COL William E. Clark
1979-1991
COL Jack Grogan 1991 to 1999
COL Jack Grogan
1991-1999
COL Finley R. Hamilton 1999 to 2007
COL Finley R. Hamilton
1999-2007
COL Thomas H. Palmatier 2007 to 2011
COL Thomas H. Palmatier
2007-2011
COL Timothy J. Holtan 2011 to present
COL Timothy J. Holtan
2011-2015
COL Jim R. Keene 2015 to present
COL Jim R. Keene
2015-present

The U.S. Army Field Band

4214 Field Band Drive STE 5330

Fort George G. Meade MD 20755-7055

301-677-6586 | usarmyfieldband@mail.mil