Army band teams with Western Thunder for halftime

Sgt. 1st Class James McGuire, State Public Affairs Office

Much like the fourth-quarter flurry of effort by the University of Wyoming Cowboys to defeat the Air Force Academy’s Falcons, the Wyoming Army National Guard’s 67th Army Band and UW’s Western Thunder Marching Band took to the snow-covered field at War Memorial Stadium Nov. 17, to provide an intense spectacle of teamwork.

The bands had performed together a few years ago. But this year they marched onto the field together and performed a detailed and vibrant show for the University’s Military Appreciation Day.

UW’s band director, Dr. Bryan Raya, is a former Army bandsman, and in his second year at the school. He had been working with the 67th for more than a year to coordinate the performance.

“He was very organized and sent us material months ago so we could practice, and when we got here for rehearsal, it was boom, boom, boom—ready to go,” said Sgt. 1st Class Rich Cole, the Army Band’s training noncommissioned officer in charge.

“It is a pleasure to have them here. They have been really flexible with my crazy halftime ideas. Being an old Army band veteran myself, and understanding what they can do was really helpful in coordinating the program,” Raya said. “They have a certain marching style and musical capabilities and knowing that and incorporating that makes it much more efficient in communicating ideas.”

While frozen valves on the horns, and fingers on the hands provided some occasional discomfort and missed notes, the 67th enjoyed the chance to share a big stage.

“It’s fun playing with a band like this,” said Sgt. Taylor Coleman, who went to a military college, and has only played in military bands. “They are so much bigger than us.”

Chief Warrant Officer 4 Rob Phillips, commander of the 67th, hopes to continue building the relationship with the university.

“I think this is a great idea and I hope it’s not the last time we do this,” Phillips said. “We had some of our soldiers go to their band camp a couple of years ago, and it established some relationships. I probably shouldn’t say this too loud, but these are the kind of musicians we would like to recruit, too.”

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