Marine Corps Logistics Base ALBANY Ga. --
It was one last performance, one last round of applause and one last exit stage right during a somber ceremony at the Base Theater Friday as the Albany Marine Band played its final tune during a deactivation ceremony.
At 10 a.m., the band was officially deactivated as band members performed a ceremonial casing of the colors in front of more than 100 base and tenant commands’ personnel. “Anytime you see the casing of the colors, it is an unpleasant day, but you have to remember that we have done this throughout the Corps,” Maj. Gen. Charles L. Hudson, commanding general, Marine Corps Logistics Command, said.
Hudson said in the fall of 2010, the commandant of the Marine Corps convened a force structure review group to determine how the Marine Corps would position itself.
“One of the many actions that came out of that group was the decision to deactivate the Albany Marine Band along with the one at Twentynine Palms, California,” he noted. “This unit is not alone, but it is the nature of the business and part of the changing mission for the Corps for the next few years.”
Hudson thanked the families of the band members for their support and allowing the Marines to showcase their talents.
“Units ebb and flow based on the requirements, but since this band is near and dear to us and these are our Marines and our band, it makes it even harder,” he said. “These Marines have represented this command, community, base and the entire Marine Corps exceptionally well for more than 22 years - every time and everywhere they performed. They have left a tremendous legacy and will be able to share their knowledge with the other bands to make them even better.”
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Christian Flores, band officer, Albany Marine Band, said he feels like he’s losing a family member and it is going to be hard to leave this community. “I wish we were all gathered today for different reasons, but it has been a wonderful ride and I feel like the luckiest man in the world to have served with some of the greatest Marines in the Corps,” he said. “To be able to have had the job I’ve had for the past three years and to have the band members I have, who have won band of the year for the past two years, are the only sweet aspects of this bittersweet moment.” Flores, who has served with the Albany Marine Band for more than five years, said it is rewarding to know his Marines will be able to spread their wealth of knowledge throughout the remaining bands in the Corps.
Col. Stephen Medeiros, commander, Marine Depot Maintenance Command, said the fact that the Albany Marine Band was invited to major events by name was a testament to just how good they were.
“The band represented the social fabric of what we do here and they have been extremely important to us,” Medeiros said. “The camaraderie and the esprit de corps will be greatly missed as well as their dedication and professionalism. It’s a sad day for Albany and the command.”
Established in 1990, the Albany Marine Band, consisted of 40 Marines, was one of only 12 bands throughout the Marine Corps and located at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany. They have traveled more than 20,000 miles throughout the U.S. serving as musical ambassadors for the Corps.
Some of their notable performances include playing in Scotland for the Queen of England in 2002, performing in 2004 for the changing of the guard at the Citadel in Quebec City, Canada, the only non-Canadian band to do so, and for the re-opening of the Statue of Liberty’s crown in 2009.
In 2010, the Albany Marine Band was selected to represent the Marine Corps at Marine Week Boston, Mass., and again in 2011 at Marine Week St. Louis, Mo.
The band was awarded the 2009 and 2011 Live Performance of the Year and the coveted titles of the 2010 and 2011 Band of the Year.
The Albany Marine Band performed a farewell concert at the Albany Municipal Auditorium for the community entitled “Thanks for the Memories,” Feb. 14.
Gunnery Sgt. Gary Gilbert, band master, has been here since June 2008 and will be departing for the Marine Forces Pacific Band in Hawaii.
“It feels like the day of my retirement and my career has been summed up here,” Gilbert said. “None of us have been through a deactivation before so we’re not sure how we’re supposed to feel. For me it is the end of this chapter in my career and I’m excited to start my next one. It will hit home when I get to my next duty station.”