25th ID Tropic Lightning Band entertains in China, Russia

| September 24, 2010 | 0 Comments

Story and Photo by
Master Sgt. Jim Guzior
25th Infantry Division Public Affairs

Russian teens from the Selisakh Youth Camp show their aloha for the 25th ID Band. The 25th ID Band is the first U.S. military band to perform on Sakhalin Island, Russia. SAKHALIN ISLAND, Russia — History was made – not once but twice – as the 25th Infantry Division “Tropic Lightning” Band traveled to Shanghai, China, and then to Sakhalin Island, Russia, to perform during an international community relations mission for the Army and U.S. Pacific Command, recently.

For the band’s stop in Shanghai, they performed for high school and elementary students at the Shanghai Community International School, and then answered a variety of questions from the students on topics ranging from military service to music.

“The students here have never seen a professional band, so this performance gave the children a chance to see what they are learning to do right now,” said Mindy Ruskovich, a teacher at the school. 

The following day, the band was the first U.S. military band to play at the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai. At their first performance, hundreds gathered to listen to the division’s band play some traditional American songs. The crowd danced and clapped to the band’s Dixieland music. After the performance, the band took photos with expo patrons and shared the aloha spirit. 

“Music is a language that needs no translation,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Joseph Parenteau, commander and conductor, 25th ID Band. “We’re putting forth programs that are fun and entertaining. The band helps put a human face on the Army and lets an international audience … get up close and personal (to) see and talk to an American Soldier.”

The band was the grand finale in a two-mile parade route through the streets of the expo. Led by a 25th ID Army color guard, the band marched and played for thousands along the parade route, as patrons scrambled to get pictures and followed alongside the division band. 

“This is just amazing,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jovan Velasquez, color guard leader, 25th ID Headquarters and Headquarters Company. “These people are standing in line just to get pictures with an American Soldier. I’m still in shock that I just carried our nation’s flag down the streets of Shanghai, China, at the World Expo … (it’s) just historic.”

History was about to be made again, as the band was the first U.S military band to perform in this part of Russia and the first to participate in a ceremony 65 years in the making.  

Russia proclaims every Sept. 3, as Victory Day for Russia, to celebrate the end of World War II and the beginning of peace. However, in Sakhalin, this annual celebration and commemoration just never took place, until this year. 

“During World War II, the U.S. and  Soviet forces worked together, so it was truly fitting for us to work together again for this festival,” said Patricia Miller, Sakhalin U.S. consulate general. “The whole brass band and concert band – everyone seemed to enjoy every aspect of it.”

The band performed in Kholmsk and Aniva, and also for a youth camp at Selisakh where the teenage crowd danced, howled and rushed the stage.  

“I saw the shiny eyes and smiles of the young people here, and that was the best sign for me that this concert was successful,” said Bordenis Osidulov, the youth camp director.

The Russian Central Orchestra of the Ministry of Defense Band and the 25th ID Band also performed a concert for hundreds of citizens of Sakhalin. 

“Russian and American military musicians standing side by side, making music together … really that is what the entire trip was about – using music as a bridge to connect people of different cultures.” said Sgt. Robert Carmical, 25th ID bandsman.

Category: News

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