202nd Army Band takes gig in Germany

By Sgt. Cody Cooper, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Soldiers of the 202nd Army Band provided support for the Unites States Army Europe Band in Sembach, Germany July 29, 2018. Performances that were delivered included a marching band, brass quartet, honor cordon, rock band, and their Single Barrel Brass Band. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Cody Cooper)

SEMBACH, Germany — Soldiers of the 202nd Army Band provided support for the Unites States Army Europe Band in Sembach, Germany July 2018. The purpose of the 202nd’s annual training was to carry-out band mission requests while the Sembach-based Europe Band was assigned abroad.

“We have had a large variety of missions that we have performed, in which we have had a cultural outreach with our host country of Germany,” said Chief Warrant Officer Gregory Stepp, the 202nd Army Band director.

The 202nd performed nine events during their time in Germany; the performances consisted of six military performances and three in local communities. The band performed as a marching band, a brass quartet, honor cordon, rock band “Fallout” and Single Barrel Brass Band. For a month, Soldiers of the 202nd took the stage as ambassadors of Kentucky and the U.S. Army.

“This is a great opportunity for us because this gives us an opportunity to carry out a mission in a different environment and it gives my Soldiers a chance to experience German culture as well as allow them to share some of our culture with a different country,” said Stepp.

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Soldiers in the unit had the chance to travel the country as well, with memorable stops in Bonn, Cologne and Heidelberg. Some destinations were appropriate to the musical unit, such as Sgt. 1st Class Steven Thompson’s trip to fulfill a longtime dream.

“For years I have wanted to visit the Beethoven House in Bonn,” he said. “The experience was both humbling and overwhelming. As a musician, it’s a must-see.”

Whether the Soldiers of the 202nd are stateside or abroad, they are always constantly performing for audiences.

“This annual training has been an incredible experience because we are getting paid to do what we love and we are able to add a sense of importance to the events that we perform at,” said Sgt. Brain Ewalt, an instrumentalist with the 202nd.

Being in a military band allows Soldiers to serve their country in a unique way. They also gain invaluable experiences that civilian musicians may not receive. Staff Sgt. Kate Walsh knows this all too well. As a lead singer for the rock band, the numerous stage appearances from Kentucky to a village in Germany have allowed her to develop into a sought after vocalist.

“The Army band has given me the opportunity to sing professionally in an environment with professional musicians, and now I have been given a chance to move forward and sing for the West Point band,” said Walsh who will soon be moving from the 202nd to the West Point Band at the U.S. Military Academy.

Thompson said the entire unit shared similar sentiments of the mission, one they won’t soon forget.

“Not only were we afforded the opportunity to travel overseas and provide support for military ceremonies. We were also able to share our music, and culture with people in surrounding towns. The interactions with our hosts were nothing short of amazing, and we appreciate the graciousness, generosity, and good will we received from them. To say the experience was good, would be an understatement.”

There are currently positions available in the 202nd Army Band. New members must complete an audition before joining the unit. For additional information about the 202nd please contact Sgt. 1st Class Steven Thompson at 502-607-5331.