We're grateful that Ray Ascione is willing to help Wilbur Smith with his conducting duties this year. My viewpoint is that anyone who was good enough to lead the Naval Academy Band is good enough to conduct the NMA concert band.
Ray looks as good as he did when he was my boss at the School of Music. Back then, the only thing worse than a Friday morning inspection was a Friday morning inspection conducted by LT Ascione. It's not he was a nitpicking pain in the butt. The problem was that he looked perfect.
Ray always looked as if his uniform had floated down from heaven on a golden breeze and, to the sound of celestial trumpets, draped itself upon his form with the sparkling clarity of an illustration from the Bluejacket's Manual. You could spend hours washing and pressing your uniform for inspection, but the moment the lieutenant stepped in front of you, you felt like you were wearing a rag that had been used to clean a leaky valve in a cesspool truck.
I'm glad Ray is here. I'm also glad we don't wear uniforms at NMA reunions.