FAIRBANKS, Alaska — The U.S. Army has announced plans to move interior Alaska’s 9th Army Band to Anchorage next month.
Officials said the Fort Wainwright band will transfer to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richards on Oct. 16. The move announced Wednesday is part of a larger “mandated restructuring” within the Army, The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported (http://bit.ly/2cKoNoS).
Army Alaska spokesman John Pennell said the decision was largely driven by the fact that the band played more officials events at the Anchorage base than at Fort Wainwright.
“Quite frankly, the majority of their military functions were happening here in the JBER area because this is where the bulk of the military in Alaska is headquartered,” Pennell said. “We plan to be able to continue those community missions up in Fairbanks area and continue, obviously, the military missions there at Fort Wainwright, Eielson and Fort Greely, but from down here, it’s a little bit easier because they were traveling more to this area than they would be traveling from here to Fairbanks.”
Forty-two members of the band will relocate, while five people with shorter times remaining in their deployments will form a brass quintet and stay put through early 2017, Pennell said.
Former 9th Army Band member James Fisher called the Army’s decision a “disappointment.”
“We always knew it was possible they would make the move,” he said.
Fisher and George Rydlinski, another former band member, stayed in Fairbanks after they left the Army. Fisher is the president of the Fairbanks Community Band and Rydlinski is the marketing director of the Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra.
Rydlinski said moving the 9th Army Band will be a big loss for the Fairbanks community, as many members participated in local activities and performed with other local musicians.
“It’s going to cause a big hole for us,” Rydlinski said. “They’ll come back up to work to perform ceremonies or parades or concerts in schools, but when they come up they go back the same day or the day after, so they can’t really participate in any after-duty hour rehearsals for the community. It’s a great loss.”
Pennell said the band will try to maintain a presence in Fairbanks, but performances may be scaled back.
Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com