8/15/13 -- WASHINGTON⎯In a formal ceremony on Aug. 23 at the Marine Barracks Annex, Marine Band Historian Master Gunnery Sgt. Michael Ressler will retire from the U.S. Marine Corps after 39 years of active duty service. He has served as a euphonium player, librarian, chief librarian, support staff section commander, and, since 2008, the band’s first-ever historian.
“It has been a dream to spend these last five years focusing on the band’s history full time. I can’t imagine a better way to end my career,” Ressler said. When he retires, Ressler will have served 39 years, 1 month, and three days on active duty, making him the most senior enlisted Marine, by time in service, in the United States Marine Corps. In honor of his long-standing, influential career and his exceptionally meritorious service, Ressler was recently awarded the Legion of Merit by Marine Barracks Washington, D.C., commanding officer Col. Christian G. Cabaniss.
“He has brought great credit upon the Marine Corps,” Col. Cabaniss remarked at the award ceremony. “He has significantly impacted the Marine Corps History Division.”
A native of New Holland, Pa., Ressler grew up in an area with fertile ground for bands, band music, and band musicians. At the age of 15, Ressler joined his hometown community band, the New Holland Band, and got to know many of the senior members. His New Holland Band experience was the main catalyst in helping shape his future career.
He first heard the Marine Band perform on television during President John F. Kennedy’s funeral and it was a moment he would never forget. Ressler auditioned twice unsuccessfully for a trombone opening in the Marine Band, and then came in second for a euphonium audition. It was then that he was offered the opportunity to work in the Marine Band library due to experience he had with the New Holland Band. Shortly after accepting the position, a change in the euphonium section allowed for an open spot and Ressler was invited to play in the section.
As much as he relished his time as a playing member of the band, Ressler returned to the library in 1978 because he felt he could make a more substantial impact as a member of the support staff. He enjoyed being behind the scenes and involved in the day-to-day support of the band’s activities. During that time he managed the activities of the library and librarians; cared for the band’s historical assets; conducted research; and preserved material history. He also authored a booklet titled “Historical Perspective on ‘The President’s Own’ U.S. Marine Band,” for which he received the Brigadier General Edwin Simmons-Henry I. Shaw Award from the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation on April 20, 2013.
“I will miss the music and the people tremendously and will be the band’s number one fan,” Ressler said. “I hope the work I’ve done stands the test of time.”
The Marine Band is America’s oldest continuously active professional musical organization. Founded in 1798, the band has performed for every U.S. President since John Adams. Known as “The President’s Own” since the days of Thomas Jefferson, the Marine Band’s mission is to provide music for the President of the United States and the Commandant of the Marine Corps.