The Albany Marine Band, conducted by Officer In Charge CWO3 Christian Flores, performs their program "Here We Stand" in August at Byne Memorial Baptist Church.
MCLB-ALBANY — In the auditorium at Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany, the Albany Marine Band played its final notes as it was officially being deactivated Friday morning.
The ceremony itself included a brief performance by the remaining members of the band as well as the ceremonial casing of the colors, which is when an organization’s flag is covered up and taken away.
Then came some parting words from Maj. Gen. Chuck Hudson, commanding general of Marine Corps Logistics Command. The day before, he had spent some time with the band and even performed a few push-ups with its members.
“Some have called this a bittersweet day. I would say that all we are doing is following orders,” Hudson said at the ceremony.
In December, it was announced that two of the 12 Marine Corps bands would be cut. The other deactivated band was stationed in Twentynine Palms, Calif.
“Anytime you see the casing of the colors, it is an unpleasant day,” Hudson said. “But you have to remember that we have done this throughout the Corps.
“This unit is not alone.”
The commanding general said the band’s members did their job in representing the Marine Corps as well as the Albany community in a way that reflected the values of the Corps.
He also gave words of gratitude to family members of the Marines at the ceremony.
“Thank you for your service,” Hudson said. “It is never easy when a loved one is away. Thank you for letting them showcase their talents.
“They have given their heart and soul to this organization. We are sorry to see them go. What we will always have is the memories of this organization. The bottom line is that we had the opportunity to listen to these extraordinary Marines.”
Some of the band members left immediately following the ceremony, while others are set to leave in the next couple of days. They are expected to move to the remaining 10 bands.
The Albany band’s officer, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Christian Flores, will be moving to the Armed Forces School of Music.
“It’s almost like losing a family member,” said Flores, who had been serving with the band for several years. “I wish we had all been gathered for a different reason.
“The fact that I have Marines like I do and they get to go out and spread the wealth (is rewarding). That is the only sweet part of this bittersweet moment.”
After the band had been officially disassembled, Flores recalled some of most rewarding moments in the group’s recent history — including an opportunity to play for Queen Elizabeth II in 2002, and to be a part of the re-opening of the Statue of Liberty crown in 2009.
“(At our concerts) we want to make sure it is a happy experience, not just to hear good music. And, amongst the other bands, we are the most physically fit,” he said. “This community is so pro-military. We represent the Marine Corps as well as we can (in the community).
“(When playing for the queen) I reflected on how wonderful it may have felt for the community to know that we were representing the Marine Corps there.”
The Albany Marine Band was established in 1990. Its deactivation was announced at around the same time the group had been recognized as Marine Band of the Year for the second consecutive year. In addition to that, it also won the award for the best live recording of the year.
In its time here, the band provided music for military occasions, community celebrations, recruiting programs and official events. Last year, the group traveled more than 20,000 miles for civilian and military performances and entertained audiences totaling more than 5.6 million.
Its last public performance was in the Albany Municipal Auditorium for a free program entitled “Thanks for the Memories” on Feb. 14, which received a positive community response.