The United States Air Forces in Europe Band History
From 1943 to present-day, the USAFE Band has continued to foster the tradition of providing music for military functions, entertaining military personnel, enhancing friendly relations with the United States and its European neighbors, and contributing to international relations performing for kings, queens, presidents, and military leaders throughout Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. Each decade has brought new experiences and new challenges, as the band continues to break the boundaries of international cultures, bringing nations together with music.
The USAFE Band traces its origins back to Greenwood Army Air Field, Mississippi, where it was first activated on February 1, 1943 as the 386th Army Air Forces Band. It was a small unit to start, with only 5 members to form the nucleus of the organization. The personnel roster grew rapidly though, and by November, the band was able to carry out its prescribed functions. The primary mission of the 45-member unit was to minister to morale, and they did so by performing field music, concerts, and musical shows for the troops. Members also made up a dance band for social affairs on the Post. Like other military units of the time, the 386th was actively involved in fundraising parades to promote the sale of bonds to aid the war effort.
On February 26, 1944 the band was renamed the 686th Army Air Forces Band. On December 6, that same year, the band moved to Army Air Forces Station #379 at St. Germain-en-Laye, a suburb of Paris, France. The original move was completed without personnel or equipment, but by January 17, 1945 all the members had arrived and were ready to perform. On September 17, 1945 the band moved again; this time to Wiesbaden, Germany where it would remain until 1977.
From 1947 to 1969, there were a total of four Air Force Bands in Europe: the 3rd AF band in South Ruislip, England; the 16th AF Band in Torrejon, Spain; the 583rd AF Band in Ramstein, Germany; and the 686th AF Band in Wiesbaden, Germany. Over time, budgets were cut and the bands were disbanded. The Ramstein 583rd AF Band closed in 1969, leaving the 686th the only Air Force Band left in Europe. Today the 686th is known as the USAFE Band, and has since moved from Wiesbaden to Einsedlerhof, from Einseidlerhof to Sembach and from Sembach to its current station on Ramstein Air Base, Germany.
About the USAF Bands Program
Air Force bands support the global Air Force mission in war and peace by preserving national heritage providing professional musical products and services for official military, recruiting and community relations events.
·We're a team of Air Force professionals building the world's most respected music program.
·Reaching an increasingly diverse global audience
·Exploiting state-of-the-art technology
·Communicating Air Force excellence
Objectives of the Air Force Bands Program
·Enhance airman morale, esprit de corps, and retention.
·Inspire patriotism, support Air Force recruiting, and encourage young men and women to serve in the military.
·Increase public awareness and understanding of the armed forces and the mission, policies, and programs of the Air Force, enhancing public trust and support.
·Strengthen the reputation of the Air Force as a good neighbor, a respected professional organization charged with part of the responsibility for national security.