Rest__The Military Band__Recreation
The Military Band
The regiment owes much of its spirit and military smartness to the Military Band. Starting as a drum and bugle corps, it was organized by Sgt. Arthur Young in April, 1944, and quickly grew into a band with a variety of instruments. Outfitted with white helmet liners and leggings, with tabards on the horns, the band was a colorful part of the retreat ceremonies as it marched up and down 12th Street at Camp McCoy.
The band's reputation spread quickly. Before the summer was well started the boys were giving concerts in the evenings, playing for civilian ceremonies, football games, Army-Navy E awards to industry in nearby cities, and other functions. At the same time furloughs, maneuvers and preparations for combat duty overseas were cutting in on the band program. Since these men were destined to be fighting soldiers, and not music-makers for fancy parades, they lay down their instruments until late in October when the band resumed rehearsals and began playing again for retreat formations.
Overseas, a Drum and Bugle Corps was-formed from the original band members and the populace of Bournemouth turned out to hear the band play. But the men were soon again to pack away the horns, and drums and take up their rifles for the fight ahead. In the post V-E Day picture, the former members and many new ones were reorganized under the direction of S/Sgt. Dominick Arcuri and Sgt. Richard Harkin. Hearing an American band in Europe was almost as inspiring as seeing the American flag again. A picture many of the men will remember is the band marching through the streets of Altenburg, followed by and grandly ignoring a horde of several hundred German boys and girls.
Five thousand miles from home, on foreign soil, the men of the 304th were able, overnight, to transform a provincial, war-dead German community into a little America with an intricate scheme of social and recreational facilities for every GI. Athletics, music, movies, stage shows, parties, beer gardens, P-Xs, a newspaper--whatever the men wanted (except home!) they had, in the heart of Germany as well as in the barracks-city of Camp McCoy.
Largely, they did it themselves through the channels of that all inclusive regimental organization, the Special Service Office. Unobtrusively, Special Service provided the ways and means, drawing upon the varied talents and interests of 3,000 and more men to produce the result.
Genial, hard-working coordinator of all of these activities since 1943 was Capt. Sayre E. Cultra, Special Service Officer. From modest beginnings at Fort George G. Meade and A. P. Hill, the Special Service program developed under Capt. Cultra during the regiment's stay at Camp McCoy into an elaborate social pattern which was, in short, the life of the regiment--and which has accompanied the regiment wherever it has gone.
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From McCoy to Altenburg they set the tempo for the marching feet for each retreat and every dress parade. Drums and brass struck the balance of the martial treads. The beat and pound of boots in measured cadence was their business--and they knew it well. Who can forget them sweeping past on 12th and swinging back again? Who will ever forget swinging in behind them--or the feeling that you had when you stood there at attention and listened to them play the "Star Spangled Banner?"--or the days at Altenburg when they came down to the Bahnhof to say "goodbye"--this was the "marching band!"
"They played for wakes and weddings--and for all the fancy balls . . ."
Drum Major--par excellence!
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