• Pipe Band at Air Force Academy?

    From christison@coastalnet.com@21:1/5 to Jim Davidson on Sun Dec 9 18:17:09 2018
    On Monday, November 12, 2001 at 9:49:16 PM UTC-5, Jim Davidson wrote:
    There was never a full pipe band at the USAF Academy. In the early 60's there were two special (active duty) bands in the USAF. The USAF Bands located in Washington DC and the USAF Academy Band at USAFA. The USAF Pipe Band under Sandy Jones was so successful and became so popular that the Air Force decided to form another special Pipe Band at USAFA.

    The first Piper they recruited was a person named Fulton. I don't know much about him other than he did not stay on when his tour was up. The second player was an Irishman named Nicholas Shanahan who was a good player and had played in several bands in Ireland before emigrating to the US. He was a wonderful entertainer playing concertina and singing in addition to piping.
    I was the third piper recuited for this band.

    We were attached to the USAFA Drum and Bugle Corps and to the USAFA Concert Band. We were assigned two side drummers and a bass and usually marched
    with the Drum an Bugle Corps on parades. Our duties included waking up
    cadets at 5am with pipes (I still meet cadets who remember this lovely tradition with great fondness :-) I don't tell them it was me), playing noon formation (daily), special concerts, traveling and performing with both bands, performing at Officers Mess, dining-ins, etc. We were also drill instructors each summer for new cadet recruits. It was an active and
    exciting life and lots of fun for an 18 year old. I got to travel and meet famous people and to play pipes for a living. What more could any young
    piper ask?

    Our band (USAF Academy) never played at Kennedy's funeral. We were in
    Dallas the week before President Kennedy was shot, but, the honor of playing at the funeral went to Sandy Jone's band. They were really something in
    those days. Kennedy loved the band and had them play all over the place.
    They gained great notoriety for their performances. Sandy clearly knew what he was doing and created a band any piper or drummer in our country would be proud of even today. They had a terrific sound and some quality players who are still very active. Donald Lindsay being one name that comes to mind.

    Our experience at the USAF Academy was quite limited compared to those guys in DC. Eventually, after Kennedy was shot, we were assigned a new band commander who did not like the pipes; with Kennedy out and Johnson in...he eliminated us. The band was disbanded around 1965. I believe the DC band was eliminated about a year later.

    So, unless there is a cadet initiated band (like at West Point) the pipes
    are no longer a tradition at USAFA.

    Yours Aye,


    Jim Davidson
    57 Ridgewood Acres
    Thomaston, Connecticut 06787
    Telephone: 860-283-0866
    Work: 203=771-0002
    E-Mail: jdavidson04@snet.net
    Work E-Mail: jd1793@ctmail.snet.com
    "Sean" <smhgh@ix.netcom.com> wrote in message news:9sodbh$abt$1@slb7.atl.mindspring.net...
    A friend of mine told me he had heard that they had started a band at
    Has anyone seen or heard anything in this regard?

    Sean H

    Jim, I was a member of the Academy band from January '66 until I retired in October '83. I must have just missed you. My understanding was that Shanahan was the last piper there. Is that correct? Herman Vincent was the commander who probably didn't
    care about the pipers. I think his interest was to add strings to the band, which he did. That didn't last too long either but it made a pretty nice sounding augmented band. The arrangers loved being able to write for the band with strings.

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