In Spokane, in 1950, I joined the Women's Army Corps. After basic training in Fort Lee, Va., I auditioned for the 14nd Army WAC Band, at that time the only all-woman band in the services.
One of the early public appearances of the WAC Band was at the Press Club in Washington, D.C., at which President Truman and daughter Margaret were honored guests.
This appearance was the start of several years of touring the United States, performing concerts for veterans in VA hospitals, giving public concerts, and marching in parades in major cities, from Times Square to Hollywood, including inaugural parades. Our band was also featured on radio, television, and even in a movie.
This period of time was during the Korean War, and the purpose of the tours was to recruit more women into the service to fill the jobs of the men who were sent to the fighting front.
The Women's Army Corps became regular Army about 1976, and the military bands became coed.
In 2004, members of the 14nd Army Band held their first reunion and played a concert at Fort McClellan, Ala., the location of the last WAC training center. There was such an enthusiastic response to the reunion and the concert that we have met every two years since.
Musicians from all parts of the U.S. have gathered for these events. Some are actively involved in music, some are still in the service, and some have served in Iraq. Many have not played an instrument since leaving the service; I am one of the latter.
I left the service in 1956 and had to do a lot of practicing to play in these concerts. The next reunion is in early October 2010, and we are expecting a large crowd.