Though we have been preparing to depart, that hasn't been the only activity recently for the 10th Mountain Division Band. We've also been preparing things for the band that is replacing us, the 82nd Airborne Division Band from Ft. Bragg, NC. They began arriving in late August, with most of their personnel coming in September. The transition is interesting partly because they are bringing a larger group, over thirty people, while we had just over twenty.
Part of the transition is turning over vehicles, ammuntion, and other equipment for them to use. We also have to find our "job counterparts" for the various additional duties that we perform and train up those people on how the system works here at Kandahar Air Field. During this time we've gotten to know the members of the 82nd, and so far the transition seems to be going smoothly. They are already taking over our partnership missions with the Afghan National Army's 205th Corps Band and have been rehearsing daily in their various small ensembles to prepare for performances. Their intent was to hit the ground running, so to speak, and they seem to have accomplished that goal.
I've been glad that they arrived when they did, since I mentioned in a previous post that all of 10th Mountain's instruments were sealed up after our September 11 performance. The members of the 82nd have been gracious to let me borrow a trombone and get some face time on the instrument! This has been a wonderful opportunity to not lose whatever improvements I've made as a musician recently, and I'd like to publicly thank them for their generosity. Sure, I can "buzz" on my mouthpiece, but nothing compares to actually playing the horn.
The members of the 82nd seem to be excited to take over the mission here, and I have no doubt they will do great things. Having been able to listen to some of their rehearsals, I can say that they have some great performers and they will represent the proud heritage of the 82nd Airborne Division quite well during their time here. Our commander talks about how the whole Army Band field is like a large family, and he's right--already after a few days, I've gotten to know many members of this group and I hope I have a chance to serve with them down the road. I've also gotten to talk with a few people I've served with previously, and also of note is that my instructor at the Armed Forces School of Music and the band liason who held my entrance audition are in the 82nd, so it is fascinating to get to spend some of my last deployment time with two people who played a large part in my entry into the active Army. Airborne all the way!