29th Division Band polishes up on Soldier skills, entertains troops during annual training

Virginia National Guard Soldiers from the Clifton Forge-based 29th Division Band conduct Combat Lifesaver training during their annual training June 21, 2013, at Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach. Medics from the Portsmouth-based 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment led the two-day training. (Photo by Master Sgt. A.J. Coyne, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Virginia National Guard Soldiers from the Clifton Forge-based 29th Division Band conduct Combat Lifesaver training during their annual training June 21, 2013, at Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach. Medics from the Portsmouth-based 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment led the two-day training. (Photo by Master Sgt. A.J. Coyne, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

VIRGINIA BEACH — The Virginia National Guard’s Clifton Forge-based 29th Division Band trained on Soldier skills and performed for audiences around the state during their annual training June 14- 25. Although the band spent the bulk of their time at Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach, their 12-day annual training stretched from Clifton Forge to Virginia Beach to Fort Pickett to Harrisonburg.

The band, which consists of 41 enlisted Soldiers and one warrant officer, has a mission of supporting the command with musical performances. But the members also need to be ready to fulfill their Soldier tasks, which is exactly what they focused on during this year’s AT.

“We’re doing all the Army tasks that have been set for us,” said Sgt. 1st Class Richard Carr, readiness noncommissioned officer and acting first sergeant of the 29th Division Band. “It shows that we not only have to stay musically proficient but we’re still Soldiers in the Virginia Guard. We’re doing our part to be individually ready and relevant. We’re doing musical missions while still being ready for whatever is needed of us. “

Virginia National Guard Soldiers from the Clifton Forge-based 29th Division Band conduct Combat Lifesaver training during their annual training June 21, 2013, at Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach. Medics from the Portsmouth-based 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment led the two-day training. (Photo by Master Sgt. A.J. Coyne, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Virginia National Guard Soldiers from the Clifton Forge-based 29th Division Band conduct Combat Lifesaver training during their annual training June 21, 2013, at Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach. Medics from the Portsmouth-based 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment led the two-day training. (Photo by Master Sgt. A.J. Coyne, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

On the tactical side, the Soldiers conducted Humvee and Light Medium Tactical Vehicle driver’s training, Combat Lifesaver training, performed records reviews, trained on the Digital Training Management System and attended Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention training.
“This shows that we’re still Soldiers in the Virginia Guard,” Carr said. “We need these Army tasks to fulfill our mission.”In addition they conducted small group musical rehearsals and full band rehearsals during AT. The band performed music for two changes of commands, one at Fort Pickett and one at Camp Pendleton, provided music for the Virginia National Guard Diversity Day celebration, and performed a community concert at James Madison University.

The concert at JMU was performed with the Harrisonburg Community Band. Community band concerts are a great way to interact with the community and perform a wide variety of music, according to Chief Warrant Officer 2 Donald Carlson, commander of the 29th Division Band.

“It’s really benefitted us to have that partnership and go out there and show what we can do,” he said “Plus it’s great for recruiting because we have guest musicians sit in with us and perform and people can see who we are and what we can do.”

In addition to the full band, the 29th ID Band contains 13 different musical performance teams. They are the concert band, the marching band, the ceremonial band, the rock band, the jazz ensemble, the jazz combo, the brass ensemble, the brass quintet, the saxophone ensemble, the clarinet ensemble, the fife and drum, the color guard and a sound reinforcement team.

The band averages between 35-40 musical performances a year for more than 200,000 people.

“To a lot of people we’re the face of the Virginia National Guard,” Carr said.

Virginia National Guard Soldiers from the Clifton Forge-based 29th Division Band rehearse for an upcoming performance June 21, 2013, at the Camp Pendleton chapel in Virginia Beach. (Photo by Master Sgt. A.J. Coyne, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Virginia National Guard Soldiers from the Clifton Forge-based 29th Division Band rehearse for an upcoming performance June 21, 2013, at the Camp Pendleton chapel in Virginia Beach. (Photo by Master Sgt. A.J. Coyne, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Because of its size and mission, the band tries to stay self contained with just about everything they do.“We have three SHARP trainers, one master resiliency trainer and our retention NCO is a former recruiter,” Carr said. “We do as much as we can to be totally self sustained.”

But that’s not always practical. So while the band often supports other units by providing music for ceremonies and events, annual training was an opportunity for other units to assist them.

“Other units are supporting us with resources we need to meet our goals,” Carr said. While CLS training was provided by medics from the 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment, the band got extra vehicles for AT from 29th ID headquarters. “It’s all encompassing of how much we are all one team.”