Air Force Reserve Band gives final performance

wcrenshaw@macon.comMay 4, 2013 

The Band of the U.S. Air Force Reserve played its swan song Saturday.

In their final public performance, members played with the Macon Symphony Youth Orchestra in the annual Kaleidoscope Concert at Mercer University.

The band, which has been at Robins Air Force Base since 1961, will be inactivated Sept. 30 as part of Air Force cost-cutting announced last year.

“It’s a little difficult and bittersweet,” 1st Lt. Thomas Gamboa, the band’s commander and conductor, said prior to the performance. “We’ve had such a good relationship with the community so it’s sad to leave but we also know it’s time for us to move on.”

In full force the band had 45 members, and the last performance of the whole band was at the annual Fourth of July concert held last year in Warner Robins. Air Force Reserve Command, which is headquartered at Robins, sponsors the concert each year. Gamboa said it hasn’t been decided what will happen with the concert this year.

Jonathan Baker, conductor of the Macon Symphony Youth Orchestra, said band members have been rehearsing with the students for about two weeks.

He said the musicians are as good as those in any symphony orchestra in the country.

“The first couple of times they were sitting and playing with them, their eyes were just big as saucers to hear such wonderful playing,” he said. “I could sense their focus and concentration to just take everything in.”

Baker, who is band director at First Presbyterian Day School, said the Air Force musicians have been involved with the community in ways many people don’t know about.

“They do so much in the community besides their regular role as musicians,” he said. “They do so much for the educational system, and they do performances in everything from churches to the Macon Symphony, so they will be missed a lot.”

Band members will be dispersed to other bands starting in June, and their numbers will gradually decline through the summer, Gamboa said.

According to its website, the band is the oldest in the Air Force in continuous operation, starting in 1941.

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.

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