Special to the Tribune-Star
TERRE HAUTE —
The Air National Guard Band of the Great Lakes, also known as the “Triple Nickel Band,” will perform a free concert at 8 p.m. Saturday in Fairbanks Park. The 2012 summer concert tour is the last major tour for the band as it is scheduled for de-activation in September 2013.
The “Triple Nickel” performs in several configurations, including rock band, jazz band and concert band. Small brass, percussion and woodwind groups may also be featured. The music played varies throughout the tour but the audience may expect a variety of symphonic and march pieces; jazz standards with a vocalist; a selection of rock and/or country songs relevant to today’s military and a patriotic finale to recognize veterans, military, community and country.
Recently, 10 members of the band deployed to the Middle East performing for both U.S. and allied service members in forward and contingency operating bases in Iraq, Kuwait and Qatar. The personnel of the band are all “part-time” military personnel who have “full-time” civilian lives. They are headquartered at the 180th Fighter Wing at Toledo Express Airport in Swanton, Ohio. The mission of the band is to establish and maintain favorable relations within the community, augment local recruiting efforts, and provide appropriate music for civilian and military functions in its assigned area of operations which covers Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, West Virginia and Kentucky.
The Air National Guard Band of the Great Lakes concert band performs for more than 200,000 people annually and travels more than 3,000 miles, giving concerts before both military and civilian audiences. The band currently serves under the command of Major Matthew H. Zelnick. The conductor of the “Triple Nickel” is Second Lt. Steven Ortiz who completed graduate studies in Wind Band Conducting at the Hartt School at the University of Hartford in Connecticut.
The history of the band dates back to the 1920s when it was known as the 148th Infantry Band at an armory in downtown Toledo, Ohio. During World War II, the 148th was combined with several small military bands to form the 37th Ohio Division Band. When the Army Air Corps was separated in 1947 to form the United States Air Force, the original members of the 148th Infantry Band reorganized as an Air Force Band back in Toledo. On June 30 1948, the 555th Air Force Band was born. The Air National Guard later renamed the band to better reflect the mission as an Air Force Band and is now called the Air National Guard Band of the Great Lakes.