DECATUR, Ala. –
After the Army Materiel Command Band deactivated and moved out, the 313th U.S. Army Band moved in.
The 313th, an Army Reserve unit under the 81st Readiness Division at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, moved here from Birmingham in July 2019. They use the former AMC Band building on Patton Road. After the pandemic’s impact 2020-21, they want everyone to know they’re available to perform at Army events and public events throughout the community.
“It’s been great,” Chief Warrant Officer 3 William Green, the 313th commander, said. “It kind of changed the whole dynamic for a little while. It’s been kind of a slow start but judging from this summer it’s been great.”
The 43 reservists, including 11 women, are from Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Florida, Tennessee, Iowa, Arizona and Utah. Most reside in Alabama and Georgia.
“We do about 60 performances a year for organizations all over the Southeast, which is our area of operation under 81st Readiness Division,” Green said. “Both ceremonial performances for military organizations and public outreach activities.”
They include a 43-member concert band, a full ceremonial band, a six-member rock band, six-member jazz combo and two brass quintets. “So basically we’re modular. We can break our instrumentation down and divide into smaller groups,” Green, 38, from Wetumpka, said.
A trombone player, Green has been with the band 18 years and its commander since January 2012. “It’s been great. The demand for Army bands performances is growing and it’s providing us with a lot more opportunities to connect the Army story with the public,” he said. “We just had to adapt (with the pandemic), and now that we’re coming out of that it’s just growing.”
The band is playing from 5-10 missions on the Arsenal annually “but we’ve got the capacity and desire to do more,” according to Sgt. 1st Class Zack Miller, the operations NCO. He invites anyone interested in booking a performance to email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Miller, 39, a New York native, is a certified public accountant in Birmingham. The drummer has been with the 313th for 18 years and in the Army 22 years; he was active duty for four years.
“Very rewarding,” Miller said of his 313th career. “It’s an opportunity to do what I love, to serve with the best and to do something different than what I do as a civilian. I’m a CPA by trade.”
1st Sgt. Cory Wills, the 313th first sergeant, 46, of Gardendale, plays percussion. The Glencoe native has been with the band 28 years. But the Soldier who has been with the band the longest is Sgt. 1st Class Tim Harris, 53, of Gadsden, who joined in 1991, some 31 years ago. Harris plays tuba and the euphonium.
“It’s been great,” Wills said. “This unit is different from most units. We serve together but it’s like family. I’m actually one of two now second-generational Soldiers in this unit.”
His father, Rick Wills of Glencoe, served with the 313th for 13 years.
Besides Green, Miller and Wills, the 313th’s cadre also includes Chief Warrant Officer 2 Andrew Harwood, the executive officer. The unit was here May 13-15 for its monthly weekend training which included doing required Army training, rehearsing the band, preparing for upcoming missions and handling its administrative tasks. They will return May 30 through June 10 for annual training.
The 313th is the southern-most of the three bands within the 81st Readiness Division. It serves Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida and Puerto Rico. For its two-week annual training, the 313th has traveled as far as Germany, Hawaii, Alaska, Washington state and Texas. It performs in New Orleans for Mardi Gras and has been to El Salvador.
“It shows we’re all over the place. We’re busy,” Miller said. “Have horns, will travel.”
The 313th was constituted in the Army on Dec. 6, 1943. It saw overseas tours in Algeria and Italy during World War II. The band moved from Hattiesburg, Mississippi, to Birmingham on April 1, 1963. The band was ordered to active military service in August 2005 for 18 months, a stateside mobilization, in support of Enduring Freedom.
Scheduled performances include:
· The community-wide 247th Army Birthday celebration, June 9 at 7 p.m. at the Von Braun Center, sponsored by the Redstone-Huntsville Chapter of the Association of the U.S. Army.
· Trash Pandas games June 7, June 8 and June 10 at 5 p.m. at Toyota Field in Madison. This includes the jazz combo June 7, the brass quintet June 8 and the ceremonial band June 10.
· An AMC retirement ceremony May 31 at 1 p.m. with the ceremonial band.
· A change of command at Fort Rucker, June 3 for the 1st Battalion, 11tth Aviation Regiment.
· The 15th Signal Brigade change of command June 6 at Fort Gordon, Georgia.