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Canned Cadence for Commander : Band for Military Rites Plays Only Lost Chord

May 25, 1986|Associated Press

NORTON AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. — As an Air Force world transport center, this Southern California base moves troops and equipment thousands of miles. But it couldn't get a band 20 miles up the road to welcome the new base commander.

Nearly 300 community leaders and hundreds of Air Force personnel waited patiently on the base parade field Friday to watch Col. George W. Hillyer III turn over command of the base to Col. David A. Voigt.

Usually during such a ceremony, a military band plays as the airmen march past the reviewing stand. The bus carrying the band from nearby March Air Force Base dashed that plan. It broke down on the way to Norton AFB.

Recorder to the Rescue

Proving up to the emergency, base personnel plugged in a tape recorder and the change-of-command ceremony was accompanied by marching music blaring from speakers hung in nearby trees.

"From what I understand, we always have plan 'A' and 'B' and that was plan 'B,' " said base spokeswoman Jackie Bunn.

She said Norton officials dispatched a bus to pick up the stranded band members, but they had already returned to March AFB on another bus.

Voigt, formerly deputy commander of the base, didn't seem to mind the lack of a band on his first day as base commander. He will be second in command at the base, working under Col. Thomas Eggers, commander of the 63rd Military Airlift Wing.

"I'm just ecstatic that Col. Eggers and the Military Airlift Command have bestowed the confidence in me to do the job," said Voigt, a helicopter pilot who flew more than 350 combat missions in Vietnam.

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