FORT HUACHUCA — Fourteen outstanding people retired from the service to the tune of fife and drum on Thursday afternoon.
The U.S. Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, of Fort Meyer, Virginia, performed at the installation’s quarterly retirement ceremony, bringing a touch of the American Revolution to Brown Parade Field with their distinctive red uniforms, wigs, and tricorn hats.
The Fife and Drum Corps, which is part of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, was first formed in 1960 in order to preserve the traditions of the Revolutionary War, and has been an iconic component of many national ceremonies ever since. The highly skilled and trained musicians give over 500 performances a year at schools, parades, ceremonies, and other events, throughout the United States and abroad, said Staff Sgt. Andrew Owen.
“We’re basically ceremonial support for the national capital region, so we play for anything from the inaugural parade, to arrivals at the White House,” said Owen, who plays the fife.
“Our buglers actually do the most jobs of anybody, because at every single funeral, they are the people who go and play taps,” said Staff Sgt. Erin Ernst, who also plays fife. “So it’s an honor to have the job that we do, and to be able to do that for them.”
Education about Army history is part of the Corps’ role as well. Being able to perform at elementary schools and share that history with kids is Owen’s favorite part of the job, he said.
“It’s great to see their faces just light up,” Owen said.
The presence of the Fife and Drum Corps, as well as Fort Huachuca’s B Troop, 4th U.S. Cavalry Regiment (Memorial), added a historical color to the ceremony, which honored 13 soldiers and one civilian who had given nearly 300 combined years of service to the military.
The notion of “service” was at the heart of Garrison Commander Col. Chad Rambo’s speech at the event.
“I went online, googled ‘service,’ and, as you can imagine, multiple definitions came up,” Rambo said. “The one that really resonated with me was from the Oxford Dictionary. It says, ‘The action of helping or doing work for someone.’ ”
“From this definition, we can clearly see that service is an active thing — it’s not passive, it’s an action. It’s about helping others, it’s not focused on self,” continued Rambo. “And that’s exactly what these individuals have done their entire careers.”
The 14 retirees represented a wealth of experience, knowledge, and contributions to the Army. While many intend to settle down with their families in Sierra Vista or Tucson, some planned to go as far away as South Korea for their retirement.
Fort Huachuca always sends its retirees off in style, and having the Fife and Drum Corps come down for the ceremony was “the cherry on top,” said media relations officer Tanja Linton.
“It’s just kind of magical, and it really takes us back to our heritage and our Army roots,” she said. “You’ve got the Revolutionary War roots, then we’ve got B Troop with their cavalry troops and, of course, we’ve got our retirees who represent today’s Army, so it’s just kind of nice to have that sort of pictorial representation of the Army’s history.”