The history of the Fifth Army Band actually can be traced back to December 1, 1941 when at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, the band was activated as the Signal Corps Reserve Training Center Band. The band was then assigned to Camp Crowler, Missouri where it became the 348th Army Band in 1943. During the war years, the band was used extensively to support the war effort as a “Goodwill Ambassador” and traveled over 20,000 miles to help recruit troops and raise funds in the U.S. Saving Bond drives to support our troops in battle overseas. In September 1946, the band came to Fort Sheridan, Illinois and on April 25 1949, the band was designated as the Fifth United States Army Band. It remained at Fort Sheridan for over 25 years until the Headquarters was moved to San Antonio, Texas in the 1970′s. In 1972, the Band was decommissioned as the 5th Army Band, and the unit was sent to Ft. Sam Houston, Texas. It was then renamed the 81st Army Band. Fort Sheridan, was officially closed by the Army on May 28, 1993.
In April 1969 the 5th Army Band departed Chicago aboard a charter flight for St. Louis and buses to Fort Riley near Abilene where it awaited President Eisenhower funeral train from Washington, D.C. This documentary film traces the story of “Operation Kansas” and the 5th Army Band’s role in giving a final farewell to the former President, NATO commander, and Supreme Commander of the European Theater of Operations during World War II. The story is told by seven 5th Army bandsmen who remember those days in 1969 when the eyes of the nation and the world focused on Abilene, Kansas as they marched past the boyhood home and were a part of the final farewell to the President.
If you were a member of the 5th Army Band in 1969 and played for the Eisenhower event in Kansas, contact Dr. Vernon L. Williams, Old Segundo Productions, to receive complimentary copies of this film for you, your children, and your grandchildren. You can also request free copies for your local schools and/or public library. Please email your request to: [email protected] and thanks for your service.