GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The U.S. Air Force Heritage of America Band plays approximately 25 concerts a year in venues from Pennsylvania to South Carolina, playing a variety of jazz, classical and patriotic music to an audience of retirees, children and families alike.
Their mission is to reach out to communities and tell the Air Force story through the use of wind, brass and percussion instruments.
Bridging the gap between the military and the public is a high priority for band members and something they try to accomplish with each bang of a drum or toot of the horn.
During an eight concert trip through North Carolina, the band touched crowds from Greensboro to Hickory and several points in between.
"We have such a good time each performance," said Master Sgt. David Dell, an 18-year trumpeter for the Air Force. "We have a lot of folks who are excited to tell us how much they love the show, but also a lot of people tell us their story of when they were in the military."
With a large population of military retirees dwelling in the central part of the state, during their performances here the band gave audience members a chance to remember the patriotic feeling of serving their country.
"It fills me with great pride to come out and see members of the Air Force perform like this," said George East, a retired Air Force senior master sergeant from Stoneville, N.C. "This is great for these guys to go out on tour and entertain the public. I come out every year when they're in the area and it gives people a good chance to interact with members of the Air Force."
The recent tour continued through Veteran's Day, and added an additional level of pride from military retirees, who stood and sang proudly during the band's rendition of the Armed Forces Medley.
"Hearing the Air Force song brought back such great memories and made my spine tingle," East said. "I'm proud of every veteran and enjoyed waving my hat during the Air Force song."
The majority of venues the band plays are miles from the nearest military installation and for many in the audience, the Airmen on stage are the only interaction they have with servicemembers.
Many bandsmen say they take great pride in being the face of the Air Force, bridging the gap between servicemembers and the community and uphold the highest standards when performing.
"We take on the persona of the entire military," Bell said when referring to those unfamiliar with the military. "It's important for us to have the best possible product out there. From the moment we step on stage, we conduct ourselves professionally. If we perform with excellence, the audience will tell people, 'if the band can be this great, then the Airmen at others bases must be incredible.'"
Whether their audience is a crowd of five or 5,000, the members of the Heritage of America band said they hit every note with a sense of pride and worth knowing the musical message they deliver touches many different people, in many different ways.
The travel time, countless hours of equipment setup and breakdown and daily rehearsals are justified, they said, when they receive resounding applause and standing ovations from the audience. It's for this reason, they play on.