Story by Sgt. Nicholas T. Holmes
JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. – Soldiers with the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), Fife and Drum Corps (FDC) and U.S. Army Continental Color Guard (CCG) participated in Basel Tattoo 2017 in Basel, Switzerland, July 18-30.
Basel Tattoo is the world’s second largest military musical performance event. For 12 years the annual event has attracted drill teams, bands and fife and drum groups from around the globe.
“The United States’ participation in events like this is important because it strengthens international partnerships,” said Sgt. Maj. William White, sergeant major of the corps. “For the Fife and Drum Corps to be chosen to represent America and our national values is an honor.”
In November 2016, Basel event officials requested The Old Guard’s participation.
“Preparation for this mission began with a concept meeting in December 2016,” said White. “From there our staff of music and drill arrangers designed the show we performed.”
After the concept of the show was finalized, the FDC traveled to Fort Belvoir for two weeks to devote their full attention to mastering the new show.
On July 18, the Soldiers arrived in Basel and prepared to perform with musicians from around the world, including Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom, among others.
“We brought 30 performers, which included a team from the Continental Color Guard,” said White. “They were a great addition to our show. On an international stage, it is really important to have the national colors on the field with us.”
The Soldiers’ busy performance schedule began after three days of rehearsals. They performed in 10 presentations for Basel Tattoo, in addition to parades, festivals and a variety of other smaller engagements.
“We averaged about two or three performances a day,” said White. “It was a busy schedule.”
Soldiers had the opportunity to create meaningful connection with fellow musicians.
“At first, everyone is really focused on their own performances,” said White. “Once the pace of the shows starts to settle, you start paying more attention to the other performances. This leads to interactions off stage. These relationships have staying power. I ran into someone I met last year at the Norway Tattoo, and we were able to pick up a conversation as if we had just seen each other yesterday.”
For White, the mission offered a unique tie to his musical craft.
“Fife and drum music began in Switzerland, so it was exciting to visit and perform at the birthplace of the art I’ve practiced for the last 35 years,” said White.
This was the first time the Soldiers performed at the prestigious event, however, it is not likely their last, according to White.
“I am thrilled with what our teams, both FDC and CCG, have accomplished during this mission,” said White. “I think we have represented the United States very well. I am certain that there is an appetite for more appearances by The Fife and Drum Corps and U.S. Military performance units in general. That’s the real measure of success, they want more!”