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"The President's Own"


"The President's Own"

United States Marine Band

Colonel Jason K. Fettig, Director
Unit News
Alumni Homecoming

By GySgt Amanda Simmons | United States Marine Band | July 13, 2015


In August 2010, the Marine Band hosted its first official Alumni Event, which was attended by more than 100 former members. These Marines had performed for every president since Franklin D. Roosevelt and traveled from 19 different states to participate. Five years later, members of “The President’s Own” are again preparing to welcome back their “graduates.”

“Former Marine Band members Master Gunnery Sgt. Elliot ‘Ike’ Evans [tuba] and Gunnery Sgt. John Wojcik [clarinet] were the driving force for getting the alumni event off the ground in 2010,” explained Maj. John R. Barclay, Executive Assistant to the Director. “Since the previous alumni event was so popular, we are thrilled to host our second event this summer and hope to continue the tradition every five years.”

The 2015 Alumni Events will take place July 14-16, and will include rehearsals, tours, a trip to the National Museum of the Marine Corps, a reception, and two Alumni Band concerts on the National Mall. Former Marine Band Directors and Assistant Directors, to include Col. John R. Bourgeois, USMC (ret.), Col. Michael J. Colburn, USMC (ret.), and Maj. Dennis R. Burian, USMC (ret.), will conduct the programs.

Whether the attendees served with “The President’s Own” for 30 years or three, many can agree that their tenure with the band had an impact on shaping their lives. In 2010, “Notes” featured the stories of five musicians who had extensive careers in the Marine Band and retired after serving 20-30 years. This year “Notes” will explore the career paths of three former Marines who served shorter enlistments with the unit and how music continued to play a role in their lives long after their time in the band.

Kenneth Watson – Oboe (1974-76)

Oboist Lt. Col. Kenneth Watson, USMC (ret.), recalls being introduced to the Marine Band by his teacher Eric Barr, who had been a member of the Marine Band from 1967-71. Watson was majoring in music composition at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. As graduation approached, Barr recommended that Watson audition for the Marine Band.

After Barr confirmed an opening, Watson traveled to Washington, D.C., to take an audition. Weeks passed before he heard that he was accepted and he reported for duty with “The President’s Own” in June 1974.

Watson had many exciting memories in his short time with the organization, including when the Marine Chamber Orchestra performed his Beatles arrangement of “Martha My Dear” at the White House.

“My intention was always to be in an orchestra and use the Marine Band as a stepping-stone to a symphony,” recalled Watson. But becoming a Marine had an unexpected effect on him.

While stationed at ‘8th and I,’ Watson found himself being drawn to the other Marines stationed at Marine Barracks Washington and was inspired by the leadership and sense of mission he witnessed. After being with the band for a little more than a year, Watson decided he wanted to be a Marine Corps officer, and he worked to enter the Enlisted Commissioning Program. During this period he received mentorship from Maj. John J. Mullen Jr., an infantry officer who was attached to the Marine Band.

“When I graduated from Officer Candidate School, Maj. Mullen gave me his second lieutenant bars,” said Watson. “He supported me through the entire process.”

Watson gave up playing music for 11 years and focused on being a Marine aviator. While in the Corps, Watson flew A-6E Intruder and EA-6B Prowler jets. He also produced the Command and Control Warfare family of doctrine textbooks for the Marine Corps, and served as an electronic warfare/information warfare specialist on senior staffs. After 23 years and 15 moves, he retired at the rank of lieutenant colonel in 1997. Watson went on to have a second career with Cisco Systems, managing critical infrastructure protection, a job that eventually transferred him back to the Washington, D.C., area. He retired from Cisco in 2011.

Midway through his aviation career, Watson rediscovered his love for the oboe. He has performed with the Austin, Corpus Christi, and San Antonio, Texas symphonies, as well as the Okinawa Symphony in Japan. He also began composing and arranging double reed quartet music. Today, Watson also occasionally performs with a double reed quartet that includes some of the current members of the Marine Band during their off-duty time.

“I always considered the Marine Band and Marine Barracks my home duty station,” said Watson. “I’m excited to return for the Alumni Event to see former colleagues and of course to play in the concerts.”

Richard Anderson – Oboe (1957-61)

In 1957, oboist Richard Anderson graduated from Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kan., with a degree in oboe performance. He applied to Indiana University’s master’s program, but also planned to take auditions with the Navy and Army Bands. While in Washington, Anderson decided to contact the Marine Band.

“Assistant Director Capt. Dale Harpham invited me to come to the Marine Barracks,” recalled Anderson. “Col. Schoepper had the day off so I played for Lt. James B. King, Jr. and Harpham. I was accepted that day and didn’t have to take the other auditions.”

Anderson’s favorite part of the job was “playing with all of the fine musicians.” His fondest memories were performing at the White House and going on tour in 1958, when the band played two concerts per day for 63 days.

“The tour was a struggle, but when I think back on it, I am so grateful for the wonderful venues that I got to perform in,” noted Anderson.

While a member of the Marine Band, Anderson had his wisdom teeth extracted but experienced a disheartening outcome. For 10 months following his surgery, the nerve in his lower jaw was numb, tabling his ability to perform. During those months, Anderson worked in the band’s library and began to explore his newfound interest in dentistry.

“While Mike Hamilton and I were taking courses for our masters program at Catholic University, he challenged me to take a course in something other than music,” said Anderson. “We both took chemistry at George Washington University and Mike went on to become a doctor and I became a dentist.”

Anderson completed his degree at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, during which he stopped playing oboe. Throughout his studies, he took a special interest in cancer patients and for his residency at the University of Houston he focused on prosthodontics. While in Texas, he started playing oboe again with the Houston Civic Orchestra along with his wife Marilyn who is a flutist.

Dr. Anderson returned to Kansas and took a position at the Dwight D. Eisenhower VA Medical Center in Leavenworth where he treated trauma patients from WWII, Vietnam, and the Korean War.

“In addition to dental care, maxillofacial prosthetics was my passion because each case is unique,” explained Anderson. “I made palatal obturators, eyes, ears, and noses for parts of the face that were missing from cancer or war trauma.”

While at the VA, Anderson also taught at the University of Missouri and played in the Kansas City Civic Orchestra for 31 years. He retired from the VA in 1996 and spends time with his children and grandchildren.

Anderson admits that he hasn’t kept in touch with any of his former Marine Band colleagues, but notes that he’s extremely active on the Marine Band website and loves downloading the recordings.

“Last fall, I saw the band on tour in Concordia, Kan.,” said Anderson. “I had a great time meeting with the current members of the oboe section, including Leslye [Barrett] and Joe [Deluccio].”

Glenn Call – Euphonium (1976-81)

Euphonium player Glenn Call’s first enlistment in the military did not take place in the Marine Band. In 1969, while a music education major at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Call took an audition with the Marine Band, but placed as a runner-up. He subsequently enlisted in the Army where he was a member of the U.S. Continental Army Band in Fort Monroe, Va. While stationed at Fort Monroe, Call drove to Washington, D.C., weekly to take lessons from the famed Master Gunnery Sgt. Arthur Lehman of the Marine Band.

“I decided I didn’t want to be a music educator. I wanted to be in the Marine Band,” noted Call.

However, his plans to take the next audition were derailed by a deployment to Vietnam. When he returned he began a pre-medicine program at Southwest Missouri State University in Springfield.

“During those studies I was working at a bicycle shop, and I was approached by a student for euphonium lessons,” explained Call. “I couldn’t figure out how he knew that I played euphonium, but then discovered his father was my mentor, Yates Totter.”

The young student improved so quickly, Call had to practice to keep up. While helping his student prepare for an audition for the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., Call was inspired by the repertoire and made preparations himself to take the audition. Not only was he accepted, but with a full scholarship. While at Eastman, Call returned to Washington to take another Marine Band audition.

“This time I won the audition, but when I arrived in Washington I discovered that the Marine I was replacing decided to extend his contract for another year.”

Call was temporarily assigned to the Marine Band library for about five months. Once making it to the stage, Call’s favorite memories include his first concert in July of 1974, the Marine Corps birthday worship service at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., and soloing with the band. As Call’s enlistment was about to end, his professor at Eastman lured him back to the university to teach in 1981, where he found an interest in Dixieland performance.

“I was getting my last haircut and the dog handler for Chesty V, a friend of mine from the Staff NCO club, notified me that Chesty was retiring and that they were having a difficult time finding a home for him,” said Call. “I volunteered to take him, so I inherited Chesty on my last day in the Marine Corps.”

At Eastman, he earned his masters in music in 1982, but his education and interest in teaching did not end there. During his time as a music educator, he was a band director at Bishop Kearney High School in Rochester, then band director at Alden High School in New York from 1990-93, where a band tour to Germany culminated with a concert in Castle Neuschwanstein. While teaching, he applied for the doctoral program at Eastman, and was told that while all the positions were filled for that year, he should use that time to complete the language requirements. Call began taking German at the local community college and began working on a teaching certificate in German at the University of Buffalo. He was invited to pursue a Ph.D. in German Literature, and while working on his doctoral dissertation, Call taught English to businessmen and technicians in Dresden, Germany, and to engineering students in the Republic of Korea.

Throughout the years, he continued to teach euphonium and conduct community bands in New York and in 1990 the Yamaha corporation asked his assistance in designing a new professional euphonium, resulting in the YEP642 and Call being named a “Yamaha Performing Artist.”

Call also took courses in SCUBA, eventually obtaining his license as a commercial diver. “In 2005, I was teaching junior high German when Hurricane Katrina hit the gulf,” notes Call. “The need for commercial divers was great because the oil fields were destroyed, so I spent that fall helping with the recovery.”

When Call returned from the gulf, he decided to retire and so did his wife Eileen, who had been teaching for 38 years. He learned how to sail in the Army and had often participated in the hobby with the late Marine Band trumpet player Master Gunnery Sgt. David Johnson, USMC (ret.). One night he had a dream that he had sailed down the Atlantic coast. That next morning he awoke, got on Craigslist, and purchased his first sailboat. He set out through the Erie Canal, down to the port of New York and kept going.

“Throughout the journey people asked me when I was going to stop, and I would say when it gets warm enough,” explains Call. “Then I decided I would stop when the water looked a certain color.”

The Calls finally found that perfect turquoise water when they hit Marathon in the Florida Keys and keep the boat docked there, living on it half the year.

Call has had many adventures throughout his life but explains: “The Marine Band was the most astounding thing I’ve been a part of. Every time I sat down with the group, we learned something profound. This experience has affected almost everything I have done with my life.”

The Marine Band Alumni Events will take place from July 14-16 and are open to all former members of “The President’s Own.” The concerts on the National Mall are free and open to the public. To see the list of attendees, please visit www.marineband.marines.mil.

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