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The Early Years (1922-1942)

The U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own” was formed on January 25, 1922 by order of General John J. Pershing: “You will organize and equip The Army Band.” General Pershing believed that bands played a vital role in troop morale and efficiency and was convinced that America needed a premier band to surpass those of Europe.

The Band’s first home was Fort Hunt, Virginia, south of Alexandria. On September 25, 1922, the Band moved to Washington Barracks (present day Ft. McNair), which remained its home until the fall of 1942.

Army Band at Fort Hunt

The Army Band at Ft. Hunt Virginia. Spring, 1922.

During the 1920s and 1930s, the Band performed at many important public events. The Band performed at the 1924 and 1925 World Series and at the inaugurations of Presidents Coolidge and Hoover. The Band performed for the first presidential wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Armistice Day, 1927. In addition, the Band performed for the sesquicentennial exposition, the ceremony for Charles Lindbergh and “The Spirit of St. Louis,” and the Ibero-American Exposition in Seville, Spain.

Army Band at Fort McNair

The Army Band at Washington Barracks. Late 1920s.

During this time, the Band was involved in regular radio broadcasts. The Army Band played its first broadcast on April 16, 1923, over station WRC from a studio in the Woodward and Lothrop department store in downtown Washington, DC.

Radio brought the Army Band to a larger percentage of Americans than at any other time during its history. By 1930, there were 237 radio broadcasts annually. The Band averaged more than four broadcasts per week during the 1930s and on until its World War II departure. A poll of radio listeners ranked The Army Band as the foremost band on the air.