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Cpl. Brian J. Koons plays a tuba during the Salute to the Troops event in Garner, N.C., May 22, 2016. Comprised of more than 40 Marines, the 2nd MAW band strives to share the Marine Corps’ traditions, values and esprit de corps with the local community. The band also supports local military units and squadrons by performing for change of command ceremonies, retirements, and other military events. Koons is a Tuba player with the 2nd MAW Band.

Photo by Cpl. U. Roberts

2nd MAW Band strives for greatness: Supports military, local community musical needs

27 May 2016 | Cpl. Unique B. Roberts 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing

Approximately 35 Marines with the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing Band performed for the Salute the Troops memorial event in Garner, N.C., May 22.


The 2nd MAW Band is comprised of more than 40 Marines who are all skilled in the art of music. Some play the trombone, the flute and even the cymbals; although they play separate instruments, they all create one sound. A sound that makes people feel the strength, longevity and purity of the Corps.


“Military musicians have been a part of the military, specifically the Marine Corps since [its establishment] and has instilled pride and tradition within the Marine Corps,” said Staff Sgt. Kendra Oehlerich, a musician with the 2nd MAW Band.


The bands operational tempo remains high and steady, performing nearly 350 performances annually and traveling more than 300,000 miles a year in an effort to spread the Marine Corps heritage with people all over the world.


“We will have two weeks to a month [to prepare] depending on how busy we are,” said Oehlerich. “However, for a ceremony we will usually have about a day or two to be ready to perform.”


Although being a band member in addition to completing required military training can prove to be a challenge, the Marines with the band still find ways to remain abreast on training and keep motivation levels high.


“Seeing the faces of some of the retirees as we play the Marines’ Hymn one more time or seeing an audience of civilians cheering wildly along the parade route just for us [is rewarding and motivates us to continue doing our best],” said Oehlerich .


For the senior band members, performing has become almost second nature. But, for the more junior members of the band performing in front of more than 500 people still proves to be a challenge at times.


The band was able to face that challenge head-on this weekend in Garner, as they performed for more than 400 people honoring the selfless dedication of veterans who have served in the uniformed services.


“The concert went very well,” said Lance Cpl. Mitchelle Kantrowitz, a musician with the 2nd MAW Band. “There were numerous veterans and attendees that came up to us after we finished playing that really enjoyed the show that we gave them.”


Kantrowitz went on to explain that although performing for the local community is fun and exciting, they are different from the performances that they usually support.

We are performing music that will resonate a sense of pride and patriotism in those that attend, while for a performance that we give to the squadron we are following a specific set of rules and guidelines set forth by the drill and ceremony manuals,” said Kantrowitz. “Ceremonies performed by the military are first and foremost a ritual that demonstrates the precision and excellence that is expected of the military, whereas the concerts that we give to the community serve as homage to those that came before us.”


Although the Marines cater to the organization requesting the performance, the Marines strive to do their very best and offer nothing but professionalism and a good time for those in attendance.


“Because of the precision that being a professional musician requires it often takes hours of dedicated practice to master the music on an individual level,” said Kantrowitz.


As the Marines finished their last piece, the crowd stood up in awe to admire their tribute to service members that paved the way for them today.


“I love being in the band because it gives me a place to give the Marine Corps my best self,” said Kantrowitz. “The Marine Corps gives me the opportunity to get better as a musician and person overall. I’ve been given opportunities to expand my horizons as an individual doing the thing I’m most passionate about.”   


The band is scheduled to perform during the Memorial Day Celebration in New Bern, N.C, Monday, May 30.

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