Air Force Band, Honor Guard Prepare for Inauguration Day
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 11, 2013 Preparation is nothing new to the U.S. Air Force Band and Honor Guard as they get ready for Jan. 21’s 57th presidential inauguration, bringing a total Air Force presence to the massive event.
Air Force Col. Larry H. Lang, commander of the U.S. Air Force Band, conducts during a dress rehearsal for the Inaugural Parade, at Joint Base Andrews, Md., Jan. 11, 2013. DOD photo by Claudette Roulo
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
After a dress rehearsal here today, Air Force Col. Larry Lang, commander and conductor of the U.S. Air Force Band, talked about some of the band’s efforts as the musical airmen prepare to continue the military tradition of support to presidential inaugurations.
“We have a ceremonial mission, so we’re always preparing for that,” he said. “We do parades and ceremonies throughout the year, so it’s not something new to us. The difference here is the size of it.”
Lang said the magnitude of the event requires more members of the band to participate.
“The band is 184 members. It’s divided into six different flights – six different ensembles, basically,” he said. “We’re using about 100 of those for this particular parade. So we’ve been rehearsing really hard; we rehearsed all day yesterday.”
Lang said tomorrow’s rehearsal will include the Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserve, before joining all the military services on the actual parade route Jan. 13.
“I think we’re preparing very steadily, very focused, and by the time the inauguration gets here, we’ll be ready,” he said.
The band commander and conductor, an El Paso, Texas, native and 22-year Air Force band officer, said he looks forward to representing the Air Force in his first inauguration.
“This is exciting,” Lang said. “Even though the band performs for the president and the vice president on a fairly regular basis, I am excited because this is on a worldwide stage. We have the privilege of representing all of our airmen all around the world, and I’m looking forward to it.”
Senior Airman Anthony Wagner, a Cambridge, Ill., native and noncommissioned officer for the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard’s color team, also is participating in his first inauguration.
“I feel pretty honored, pretty proud and a little nervous as well,” he said. “Representing the Air Force to the whole world, you want to put on a good show. I hope I can represent them well, because everyone’s seeing it as me carrying the nation’s colors, representing our country to the world as well.”
Wagner, who has served on the Air Force Honor Guard for three and a half years, said he’ll be nervous, but still confident, because preparation is second nature to the Honor Guard.
“The nerves, they’ll be there,” he said. “It’s not just another job, but at the same time, we’re prepared. And we’ve done many other big jobs as well, so we feel comfortable with what we’re doing.”
Wagner said he’ll advise his younger troops to stay cool and collected and that if they’re doing their job to the best of their abilities, everything will be fine.
“We’re excited and pretty honored that we get this opportunity,” he said.
From a planning and operational standpoint, senior NCOs such as Master Sgt. Kimberly Muhlecke are charged with maintaining the high standards of the Air Force Honor Guard.
“I can’t say there wasn’t a time since I got in the Air Force Honor Guard that we weren’t prepping for this day,” Muhlecke said. “Every single ceremony is unique, but they do share some commonalities. I feel like our guys, as sharp as they are, are ready all the time, to be honest.”
The standardizations NCO said the biggest difference is adjusting to the layout of the venue for a particular event, and “making what we do so well fit into that venue.”
One challenge, Muhlecke noted, will be the “nine-by-nine” formation in which 81 airmen march together. Formations for most parades, she added, consist of 15 to 18 airmen.
“This is only the second time we’ve used the nine-by-nine, so we have to get all of our airmen used to marching that large,” she said.
Muhlecke said she enjoys working alongside the “staunch professionals” in the Honor Guard, and that she looks forward to seeing all the military services together during the inauguration.
“I’m looking forward to seeing all the other elite members of my sister services and brother services,” she said. “We always look good when we’re out in full force.”