Thursday, February 25, 2010

50 Years Ago: U.S. Navy Band Tragedy

The United States Navy Band today performed at a ceremony at Arlington National Ceremony in remembrance of a group particularly deserving of this honor, the members of the U.S. Navy Band who died in a plane crash on February 25, 1960.

Fifty years ago today, the band's four-engine transport plane was approaching Rio de Janiero on a goodwill tour when it collided with a Brazilian airliner. All 19 bandsmen aboard died. The Washington Post's story, slideshow and video cover the story and ceremony here.

I was a fleet sailor, my years spent with fleet bands. Like many fleet bandsmen, I harbored both appreciation for and envy of the members of this "special band."

But I have come to realize that every Navy band is special. Each faces special challenges with a special blend of talent, discipline and sacrifice. Whether homeported in Washington, DC or Yokosuka, Japan, or afloat somewhere in the vast stretches between, each is special.

Events such as today's ceremony remind us that no organization can lay a stronger claim to the title "Band of Brothers" than the men and women who have worn the lyre of the U.S. Navy Musician.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


The driver eased the bus through a gate, drove a few blocks and pulled to a stop in front of a low wooden building. Some of us were asleep--it was three in the morning--but most of us were looking out the window.

The single light bulb over the door to the building showed a guy in dark clothing, his hair shaved to the scalp. He was holding the door open for two other bald guys who were carrying boxes inside. A man in some sort of suit--a guard?--walked behind them and yelled at the guy holding the door.

"Damn," said someone behind me. "It must be a jail or something."

Another bald internee came out the door and walked toward the bus. The driver pulled a handle and the door wheezed open.

"Jeez, what the hell these guys do wrong?" said the guy next to me.

I wondered, too. The poor slobs had prison haircuts and were being forced to work through the night. The bald guy climbing into the bus didn't look happy at all. "I don't know," I whispered. "But whatever they did wrong, I'm never gonna do it."

It was too late, of course. I'd already done it.

The bald guy stood in the front of the bus and hollered, "Good morning, you poor bastards. Welcome to Recruit Training Center Great Lakes."

Thursday, February 4, 2010

A little preventative maintenance

I'm cleaning up around here. Updating, revising, reorganizing. I hope you will soon see more activity and frequent posting here.

In the process, I've looked at the magic software that tracks visits to NavyLyres. Here's the most recent count:

Total visits- - - - - - 14,071
Average Per Day - 47
Last Hour - - - - - - 3
Today - - - - - -  - - -19
This Week - - - - - - 329

That daily average of 47 visits is high for this time of year. Typically, readership dwindles to a few hardcore visitors per day in the winter and increases in the spring, as the Navy Musicians Association reunion approaches. (This is NavyLyres' 4th year of operation.)

This busy winter could mean the busiest spring yet; we'll see.

Readership is not only relatively high for this time of year, it's widespread. The last two days alone have brought visitors from 15 states and 4 countries.

My duty is to square this place away and keep it inviting to all MUs, past and present. You who leave comments here have a duty, too, the obligation to remember that this is a public place.

A very public place. In fact, some of the visits here are from your children and grandchildren. 

They're googling you.

Just so you know.