PARKS RESERVE FORCES TRAINING AREA, Calif. –
Two Soldiers from the 63rd Readiness Division put their sweat and tears into what they love, music. Despite the world being on hold due to covid, two Soldiers from the bay area set themselves apart from their peers.
Staff Sgt. Nicholas Boland of the 191st Army Band “Band of the Wild West” stationed at Parks Reserve Forces Training Area, Calif., is among the few people to receive the Department of Defense coveted Col. Finley R. Hamilton Outstanding Military Musician Award.
“I want to thank everyone for their support through all this because I definitely wouldn’t be here without you guys” said Boland.
The Finley R. Hamilton Outstanding Military Musician Award is awarded in honor of Col. Finley R. Hamilton. He served 35 years in the army band program retiring from service as the Commander and Conductor of the United States Army Field Band. This award captures Col. Hamilton’s dedication to the musicians of the armed forces and his tireless championing of outstanding musician leaders in service bands from all branches.
The National Band Association presents this award to all components of the U.S. Military Bands.
“It is awarded for outstanding musicians, musician leadership, technical skills, personal musical ability, and contribution to the unit,” said Keith Barlow, U.S. Army Reserve music sergeant major. “From arranging music to leading a team, all those things are considered. Statistically, only three of these awards are given to the Army Reserves out of more than 300 Soldiers, so this is the top 1%.”
The requirements to be a recipient of this award include being a band member serving with the U.S. Armed Forces, between the military grades of e-4 to e-6 during the nomination, an outstanding musician demonstrating excellence in both solo and ensemble performance, or in music support role showing exceptional technical skills and value to the unit and mission, display excellent leadership qualities, and demonstrate great potential for future exceptional service.
“This is all about striving for excellence and being the best. It’s all about pushing yourself to be the best in anything you do. That excellence will inspire others to do the same, and that’s what this does,” said Maj. Gen. Miles Davis, commanding general of the 63rd Readiness Division. “Whatever your craft is, whatever your skill is. To me, the best attitude is to inspire others to be the best.”
Boland was not the only one in the spotlight at the awards ceremony; Sgt. Jessica Betando, also of the 191st Army Band “Band of the Wild West,” was awarded Soldier of the year for her musical abilities.
“This award is for Army Reserve and National Guard. Not only was she competing against 13 reserve component bands, but she also competed against the 51 National Guard Bands,” said Barlow.
“What this award means to me is that I’ve contributed to this unit. This is something that the members of my team and unit have benefited from,” said Betando, “maybe more meaningful is that my leadership submitted this award for me. That means a lot to me, and it makes me very proud.”
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jeremy Garrido, commander of the 191st Army Band, stated that these two Soldiers did not let Covid19 slow them down; if anything, they excelled.
“They’ve grown as leaders. Not only have they grown as musical leaders, but their leadership skills as Soldiers have also increased immensely,” said Garrido, “All that work they put in. I wish I could give them more awards.”
The leadership is proud of what the Soldiers were able to accomplish last year and knows that the Army Reserves is in good hands.
“Our unit has stepped up to the plate, and they do the work, which makes being a leader awesome,” said 1st Sgt. Guillermo Garcia of the 191st Army Band. “To see your people growing and becoming bigger and better. Knowing that we have good leaders coming up in the ranks and knowing we have an achiever that understands what it means to be an achiever. To take that and pass it down to the next generation, and have Soldiers like Staff Sgt. Boland and Sgt. Betando, and our other NCOs. The future for the bands is very bright.”