My main concern at my meeting with Gen. Clark going into the session was that I had set a record for the highest GPA drop in the young history of the Academy – thanks to the brass chorale being attached by Roger Boyd to every choral group he directed (I think we were more TDY than in class for the first half of the 1971 spring semester; and I dropped my grade more than a point by the mid prog report in the spring). Imagine the pucker factor as a Third Degree when the CQ tells you the 3-Star wants to see you ASAP!
My shift of the topic to the D&B was, therefore, somewhat defensive, but I actually walked out of a potential ass-chewing session with a commitment from the Supe for the horns, drums and our two NCO instructors – Greg Lykens and the drum guy, whose name I can't remember.
My Dad, a career art professor, came up with the "Flight of Sound" name and initial logo. Greg Lykens did some very nice initial arrangement (working on a melodica, since he didn't have a piano). Did a lot of the horn teaching, being our best blower, and I growled at people who weren't serious enough about practicing, which led to Lykens elevating me to drum major for a couple of marching seasons.
I agree that the whole thing was kind of an outgrowth of our brass chorale and stage band. Gen Clark initially asked me about a Cadet Band instead of a D&B Corps, but I told him, I think accurately, that we probably couldn't come up with more than a handful of reed tweeters in the whole wing. Kind of a weird way to get something off the ground, but as they say necessity is the mother of invention, and I needed to invent something to explain my GPA plunge (I got it back up to respectability by the end of the semester).
I have to give a nod of maturity and thanks to my fellow CS-24 Phantoms, who were actually very supportive of our efforts from the start. I fondly remember standing out front of the D&B during noon meal formations, and returning CS-24 commanders’ salutes as they marched by. Our AOC, Maj. Frank Black, was great with his support, also.
We had some rough times with some of the command staff, too. I don't believe that the Director of the Academy Band was fully supportive of the Cadet Corps at the time, since he could see the writing on the wall about losing the enlisted D&B Corps if we succeeded. He graded Lykens down on his evaluation on training ability, which was absurd, given what he accomplished with us. I also had some run-ins with some AOC's and Lykens' replacement, McCurdy, when they changed the rules on us in mid-stream (enlisted advisors vs. commanders), which actually forced me to leave the group for a time. But Al held it together and kept it going. Gen. Clark can be credited with the support and direction that overcame the other obstacles.
I've seen the D&B a couple of times since. Very proud of it.
One other story, related to the Fiesta Flambeau Parade in San Antonio mentioned in Scott's email below. Gen Simler from then-ATC was the parade marshal that year. We were forming up in advance of the parade, across the street from three-hundred obnoxious drunks who referred to themselves as the Univ. of Texas marching band, and who kept playing that obnoxious fight song with all the trombone smears in it. Gen Simler came over and asked me (the Drum Major, wearing parade dress with a beret, sashes and gauntlet gloves – I looked like the doorman to a New Orleans brothel) if we could "beat that" (the UT fight song).
Lykens had arranged this blood-curdling Spanish march for us called "Vaquero," so we lined up our 60 bugles and 20 drummers and – since bugles can play louder than regular trumpets, especially when powered by physically conditioned men from 7500 feet training environs – blew the UT band into oblivion, breaking a couple of windows in the area, I think.
Gen. Simler was so impressed that he switched us in the Parade marching order. We got to go first, and the Longhorns got to march behind all the horses (you can guess what that means in terms of watching your step).
After an incredibly long parade route, I turned around and saw that our snare guys' hands were bleeding from all the ruptured blisters. Scott, Bill Halsey, and the rest had never thought about complaining. I wanted to hug 'em all. We'd come quite a ways. (August 2008)