Adjutant General's Corps Regimental Association

Army Bands Keep Us Connected

COVID-19 has caused global upheaval and the U.S. Army is following the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control, while maintaining readiness to defend the nation. The National Guard has been called to active duty in many states to assist with the pandemic often including Soldiers from Army Bands. Even though our enemy is a microscopic virus, we find ourselves in a large-scale combat operation to protect the citizens of the United States.

FM 3-0 describes large-scale combat operations as- “intense, lethal, and brutal. Their conditions include complexity, chaos, fear, violence, fatigue, and uncertainty. To an ever increasing degree, activities in the information environment are inseparable from ground operations. They present the greatest challenge for Army forces.” This definition applies to our current environment. So what role do Army Bands play in large-scale combat operations?

No matter the situation or environment Army Bands provide music that perpetuates service identity, traditions, and morale. It also enhances the public’s confidence in the Army and inspires patriotism. Army Bands are the only arts organizations equipped to deliver music under any condition. They are trained as Soldiers first, which means they can go places and reach people even in the most dire of circumstances. Music is an essential part of our humanity, as demonstrated by the people of Italy during this crisis.

Army Bands such as the U.S. Army Field Band and the 34th Infantry Division Band are making videos for social media to reach us while we stay home. Some stories are even making it to national news outlets. The 78th Army Band is offering masterclasses to the many students whose schools are closed. As bands continue to deliver music to Soldiers and the American Public, they also are assisting with a variety of tasks to support COVID-19 operations. The 13th and 248th Army Bands are assisting with state testing sites. The West Point Band is providing operations support to the United State Military Academy COVID Task Force.

No matter how difficult the times, music is there to comfort us and bring meaning to seemingly senseless events. Army Bands will continue their mission, whether it be in large-scale ground combat, or combatting a global pandemic. Stay healthy and safe at a social distance until our local and national authorities give us the all clear.

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Where in the World is COL (Ret) Monje (II)?

It’s time once again to figure out where in the world is COL (Ret) Nick Monje?  When we last saw COL (Ret) Monje he was traveling China with his wife Dianne.  Based on our feature photo, where is COL (Ret) Monje now?

Hint – COL (Ret) Monje is in the tunnels of Củ Chi.  The Củ Chi tunnels are an immense network of connecting tunnels located in the Củ Chi District of a famous city that’s part of American history.  The tunnels are also part of a much larger network of tunnels that underlie much of the country they are located in.

If you guessed Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), Vietnam, then you guessed right!

The Củ Chi tunnels were the location of several military campaigns during the Vietnam War and were the Viet Cong’s base of operations for the Tet Offensive in 1968.  The tunnels were used by Viet Cong as hiding spots during combat, as well as serving as communication and supply routes, hospitals, food and weapon caches and living quarters for numerous North Vietnamese fighters.  The tunnel systems were of great importance to the Viet Cong in their resistance to American forces during the Vietnam War and helped to counter the growing American military effort.

Thanks again to COL (Ret) and Mrs. Monje for carrying the AGCRA logo to another unique location in the world.

COL (Ret) Nick Monje and his wife, Dianne, visiting the MeKong Delta in Vietnam.
COL (Ret) Monje visits the Ha Noi Hilton Prison in Vietnam where American pilots were held as POWs during the Vietnam War.
This photo depicts the final helicopter extraction point during the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975.
Here’s the same extraction point today, which also serves as a hotel.
The Monje’s visited the Angkor Wat Temple in Siem Reap Province, Cambodia. The Angkor Wat Temple is a Hindu temple complex and is the largest religious monument in the world on a site measuring 402 acres.
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LT James Reese Europe and the 369th “Harlem Hellfighters” Infantry Regiment Band

James Reese Europe was a leading composer and bandleader in New York City at the beginning of the 20th century. During this time, he was able to synthesize classical, ragtime, and march music to create a sound identity of the African-American community. He responded to criticism by saying, “We have developed a kind of symphony music that, no matter what else you think, is different and distinctive, and that lends itself to the playing of the peculiar compositions of our race … My success had come … from a realization of the advantages of sticking to the music of my own people.”

Europe originally enlisted in the New York National Guard, but was soon given a commission once his musical skill was discovered. He was charged with creating a band for the 369th Infantry Regiment which composed of African-American and Latino men. They were sent to France in December of 1917, eventually being assigned to the French Army, as American Soldiers refused to serve with the 369th troops. The French troops treated them fairly and were happy to have the help since they had already been fighting the Germans for many years. Unique to the 369th was their officers were also African-American, a first in the U.S. Army, of which Lieutenant Europe was one. The entire regiment was awarded the Croix de Guerre for their gallant service in the American Expeditionary Force.

The music of the 369th Band was an instant morale booster for their fellow troops and also connected French, British, and other European Allies to a uniquely American cultural creation. This identity of American culture persists to the present day, as European audiences are generally more accepting of ‘jazz’ music than the country where it was born. Upon the unit’s return in February of 1919, they led the parade through New York City, with many of the local black population in attendance. A proud moment to see their fellow countrymen marching in victory to music created and played by African-Americans.

The 369th Experience was organized for the centennial celebration of the end of World War I. The group carries on the tradition of James Reese Europe and educates its audiences about this important time in American History. Later in the 20th Century, the U.S. Government used the music of African-Americans to project a National Identity to the world. The world then responded back through the infusion of blues and jazz into their popular styles. Practically all popular music made today across the globe has traces of the rhythms and melodies created by the African-American community.

Check out the West Point Band performing some of James Reese Europe’s compositions.

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