YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan --
The holidays. A time of year filled with the baking of festive treats to share with loved ones, the steam rising off of a freshly made cup of hot cocoa, lights shaped like icicles draping the rooftops, the smell of a freshly decorated fern overtaking the home. The holiday season can mean any number of things to an individual. At the very least, the memories made always leave a lasting impression of a sight, a smell, a taste or even a sound that signals it is the holiday season once again.
“Sleigh Ride,” said Senior Master Sgt. Jeremy Remley, U.S. Air Force Band of the Pacific band manager. “When I hear that song it just triggers a memory in me that just really says Christmas. Hearingit just makes me think it is officially time for the holiday season.”
In hopes of inspiring the joy associated with the holiday season, the PACAF Band, in conjunction with the Koku Jietai Central Band, hosted the Sounds of the Season concert, Dec. 19-20, 2017, at the Taiyo Community Center, Yokota Air Base, Japan.
“This was a great opportunity for the PACAF Band to be able to give this concert to Yokota,” said Remley. “While we do get to do a lot for this base, the opportunity to be able to really give back to the community and offer up holiday cheer means so much to us.”
With the PACAF Band normally having a third of their band traveling outside the country in December, preventing them from hosting this type of concert for the past 10 years, a shift in timings has kept them home and able of doing something bigger for Yokota.
“This is a production that is normally done by a 60 piece unit,” said Lt. Col. Cristina Moore Urrutia, PACAF Band commander. “We are only 25 people and there are a ton of things going on behind the scenes. Individuals are running up and down the stairs to do lighting just to get back in position for their performance. It’s not easy for a group this size to put on a show of this caliber, but it’s the caliber we expect of ourselves. A caliber we know the community deserves.”
As the PACAF Band is a smaller unit, the partnership they have with the Central Band allows them to do more while also strengthening the bonds between them and their respective countries.
“Without the participation of the Central Band in our performance we wouldn’t be able to put on a show of this magnitude,” said Remley. “Similarly, the U.S. couldn’t fight and win the battles it does without the alliances and partnerships it has all around the globe.”
While the music is the product, the mission of Air Force musicians extends much deeper.
“Our purpose as musicians in the Air Force, and one of the major parts of our mission is to enhance the relationships we have with the countries we work with,” said Moore Urrutia. “One of the ways we do that is by pairing with other military units and showing in a very tangible way that the relationships between them is beneficial and sustainable.”
With the combined talents of the PACAF Band and the Central Band working in unison, the bands produced a concert focused on the holidays and all that they entail.
“The holidays are about family to me,” said Remley. “This concert is critical for that reason. Throughout the show we talk about family, cooperation and partnerships. These things mean even more for the single Airmen that are here. We want them to also feel a sense of family. While stationed overseas far away from relatives, we hope they can view this Yokota community as their family.”
With the added stresses of being stationed overseas, being so far away from home, it being so expensive to travel back to the states, it is an important time of year to rekindle the hope of the holidays.
“Another important mission we have as a band is to help inspire and encourage this hope, the will to fight another day, to motivate our Airmen to hang on,” said Moore Urrutia. “We hope this concert inspired those who attended to come together as one community, one family, not just for the holidays, but moving forward. Having the will to fight another day becomes so much easier when we are one, whether civilian, uniformed member or a partner we have at this base, one family.”