Supporting the military through music

Photos by Brittney Lohmiller/The Herald
The 38th Infantry Division Band of the Indiana National Guard performed for members of the community gathered at Dave Buechler Plaza during the 2018 Summer Riverwalk Concert Series Thursday evening. Members of the Infantry's show band Total Denotation, Spc. Mitch Berney, left, Sgt. Matt Knerr, Staff Sgt. Leeann Boaz, Spc. Ryan Wilson and Sgt. Matt Hornish, performed "Legend" during the concert.

Herald News Intern

JASPER — The Indiana National Guard’s 38th Infantry Division Band brought patriotic pride to the Jasper Riverwalk Thursday evening with a series of concerts.

Provided by the Jasper Chamber of Commerce and Smithville Fiber, the Summer Riverwalk Concert Series in Jasper welcomes musical groups from all over to perform locally for the community.

Jasper resident Bill Shimer, an Army veteran, explained why he attended Thursday’s performances: “Well, it’s the National Guard, it’s part of our Army,” he said as he motioned to himself and fellow Army veteran Tom Vogler.

Formed in 1917, the 38th Infantry Division Band is stationed in Indianapolis and includes 41 musicians, each a member of the Indiana National Guard. Most members are from all over the state, however, there are a few members from other states such as Florida and Colorado. Chief Warrant Ofc. Pat Palumbo said those members were once a part of the Indiana band, moved away, and decided to come back.

“They can transfer to their state’s band but they decided to stay with us,” Palumbo said.

Tom Vogler of Ireland, center, draped an American flag across the bench while listening to Infantry's show band, Total Denotation, perform. "It's tattered and torn," Vogler said. "But it's still old glory."

He said the band’s primary mission is to support the military through music.

“We are the ambassadors, the face of the Army,” Palumbo said. “We help to make the connections between the citizens and the National Guard. Our musical mission is to tell the Army story.”

In addition to performing shows, the band also marches in parades for federal holidays such as Veterans Day, Memorial Day and Independence Day.

The band’s youngest member is 20 years old; the oldest is 55. Only two members are full-time National Guard, running day-to-day operations and taking care of logistics. The other 39 musicians hold regular jobs. For example, Palumbo is a school teacher and a band director, some are college students, etc.

While none of the members make a living as a professional musician, they are required to have experience at a professional level.

“Our musicians must undergo a rigorous audition process,” Palumbo said.

The musicians’ hard work clearly pays off.

Jack Schafer, 10, and his sister Ellie, 6, both of Jasper, played with bubbles during the concert.

“I was very impressed, it was very, very, very good,” Shimer said.

Jasper Mayor Terry Seitz also complimented the band.

“You can tell how well rehearsed they are,” he said.

According to Palumbo, the band is the only military band in Indiana and is one of eight National Guard bands in the U.S. that are fully deployable.

“We have a full arsenal of weaponry,” Palumbo said. “We are a part of the infantry division of the state of Indiana, so we could be deployed in a time of crisis.”

Though deployment is a possibility, the band has not seen action since World War II while deployed in the Philippines. During this time, the band was known as “The Avengers of Bataan.” It was also deployed in the European theater during World War I.

Though the band’s concert band, consisting of all 41 musicians, does the main performance at concerts, the band can also be broken up into several music performance teams — a show band, a woodwind quintet, a brass quintet, a saxophone quintet and a small rock band.

The woodwind quintet and the show band performed prior to the concert band Thursday evening, featuring songs such as the Harry Potter theme song, Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding Out for a Hero” and Charlie Puth’s “One Call Away.”

“Those were pretty neat,” Vogler said.

Ed Keusch, left, and his wife, Joy, of Jasper, and Milton Mauntel of Haysville, listened to Infantry's concert band perform "Hymn to the Fallen/American G.I" during the concert.

Though these songs are a fun addition, the standard band literature and patriotic classics remain the crowd favorites.

“My favorites are ‘Stars and Stripes Forever’ and the ‘Armed Forces Medley,’” Seitz said. “My dad served in the Navy, so I always love that one.”

The band concluded the evening with the “Armed Forces Medley,” inviting all veterans and those currently serving to stand when their branch’s song was played.

Vogler said the finale was the highlight of the night, as he stood proudly, clapping his hands to the beat of “The Army Goes Rolling Along.”

More on