Musician 2nd Class (Surface Warfare)
Navy Band Southeast, Jacksonville, Fla.
I’m from Tobyhanna, Pa. I started in fifth grade play- ing trombone. All through school, I was in band, jazz
band and marching band, then I went to district band
and all-state band. I’ve been playing trombone ever
since, about 24 years.
I came into the Navy right out of high school. My
dad was a Seabee in the Navy for 27 years, retiring
as a master chief, so he kind of pushed me in that
direction. But the ultimate decision was when a Navy
band — the Sea Chanters — came to my high school
and played a really great concert. Between that and
my dad, I decided to go into the Navy instead of going
I play trombone. That’s my official job in the Navy.
Unofficially, I’m also an arranger and a composer.
Whenever they need, for instance, a theme song
arranged for a change-of-command ceremony, I’m the
one who writes it out for the band.
After boot camp and time at the Armed Forces School
of Music, I served in a NATO band, the CINCSOUTH
Band — Commander-in-Chief South Band, now called
the Naval Forces Europe Band — in Naples, Italy. It
was interesting to be part of that because I worked with
musicians from Britain, Italy and Greece. After that, I
was in Navy Band Northwest in Silverdale, Wash., at the
submarine base in Bangor.
After my first enlistment — five
years — I got out of the Navy and
used the G.I. Bill to go to Arizona
State University, where I worked
toward a bachelor’s degree for music
composition. But I didn’t finish
school, and came back into the
Navy after about three years. Right
now, I’m going online at Charter
Oaks State College and finishing
my degree, a B.A. in General Studies
with Music Theory concentration.
When I came back in, I served
in the Fleet Forces Band in Norfolk,
Va., for a year. We played at the
Virginia International Military
Tattoo that had military bands from,
Then the Navy surprised me with orders to the
Seventh Fleet Band in Yokosuka, Japan. The band is
deployed in the [command ship] USS Blue Ridge. I got
my ESWS [Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist] qualification there. That’s pretty uncommon for a musician, an
opportunity not to miss.
I’m now assigned to Navy Band Southeast in Jacksonville, Fla. We travel a lot, anywhere from Jacksonville
down to Miami and all the way over to San Antonio.
Everyone in the 35-member band has collateral duties.
My current duty is transportation coordinator. I compose
and arrange whatever the Navy needs. I’ve written for a
jazz band, marching band, ceremonial band, brass quintet
and our large ensemble. Whatever they need, anytime.
Being a Navy musician is very satisfying, especially
when you play for high schools and get to work one
on one with children. If they learn something from you
and come out of there sounding better, that’s really satisfying. Also, when we play concerts and get a standing
ovation, that is really a good feeling to have.
Promotions are very competitive for musicians. I’ll
stay in as long as I can and go as high as I can. n
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