Air Force's Premier Honor Guard and Band Invited to Macy's Parade

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Tabitha N. Haynes
  • Air Force District of Washington Public Affairs
Everything seemed normal as the first of the U.S. Air Force Band's 2011 Summer Concert Series began under the trebled spires of the U.S Air Force Memorial in Arlington, Va., June 3. As the band warmed-up, the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard members practiced marching to their location for the presentation, assuring the clicks of their shoes reverberated off the metallic columns in unison.

Next, the crowds fill the seats and bleachers. The assembling audience is unaware of the special news and presentation about to follow.

Air Force District of Washington Commander, Maj. Gen. Darren W. McDew, along with Col. A. Philip Waite, USAF Band commander, and Lt. Col. Raymond Powell, USAF Honor Guard commander, accepted the invitation June 3 to participate in the 2012 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. The invitation was presented to the three commanders at the memorial preceding the opening concert of the USAF Band's Summer Concert Series.

"On behalf of everyone at Macy's, it gives us great pleasure to officially announce the U.S. Air Force Band and Honor Guard have been selected to represent the U.S. Air Force and perform in New York City in the 2012 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade," said Mr. Wesley Whatley, director of the band program for Macy's Day Parade. "We at Macy's believe in the power of music. We believe in the music we are going to hear tonight - patriotic music. We believe in that music's ability to inspire, and the ability of patriotic music to unite a nation."

The USAF Band and USAF Honor Guard are two of 12 marching units invited to participate in next year's Thanksgiving Day events.

"It's huge," said Colonel Powell. "The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is the granddaddy of them all, and when we found out that we were going to be invited, it was massive. It is a very, very big deal for the Air Force Honor Guard."

The USAF Honor Guard will be marching an inaugural size unit of 81 guard members in a "9x9" formation. The "9x9" unit stands nine Airmen wide and nine Airmen deep.

"We started the tradition of doing community based parades," said Colonel Powell. "We didn't do those parades before. We have built our capability up. All of the work that went into putting together that parade element, to putting together that capability is going to culminate in the 2012 Thanksgiving Day Parade. It is very special because we're able to do this with the band."

The USAF Band will send an inaugural size unit as well, consisting of approximately 100 performers. This is the second time the USAF Band has been represented in the parade. The Airmen of Note ensemble attended the parade in 1994 and interacted with the crowd while riding on a float.

"Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is an American icon," said Colonel Waite. "We are thrilled with this unique opportunity to represent our Air Force in this parade which evokes such a strong sense of home and national pride."

Along with Mr. Whatley, Amy Kule, executive producer of Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, participated in the Macy's invitation presentation.

"We strive to do our very best each Thanksgiving," said Mr. Whatley, "and I know gentlemen, you share that value with us. We present this with great pride and very humbly, with much thanks for what you do for our country, for the music that you bring. We say to you, we look very much forward to your debut performance with us in the 2012 parade."

The Macy's representatives presented the Official 2012 Drum Head to the three commanders representing the invitation, while mentioning "that's the way we do things at Macy's parade."

Following the invitation, General McDew spoke to the audience.

"I am humbled to accept this invitation on behalf of the thousands of men and women in the Air Force, their family members and civilians," said General McDew to Macy's representatives. "Each of you are the reason I love serving in the Air Force Today. I believe this opportunity for our Band and Honor Guard will give the Air Force and outstanding venue to showcase outstanding people."

Concluding the presentation of the invitation, the commanders, along with the audience, enjoyed the first performance of the 2011 Summer Concert Series presented by the USAF Band.

"When they see the Air Force Honor Guard and the Air Force Band marching across that red carpet on Thanksgiving Day, they will see the precision and excellence of every Airman in the Air Force," said Colonel Powell. "It's going to present a tremendous sight and sound picture to the nation."