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Twenty-one Marines with the Combat Center Band march down Fir Avenue in Reedsport, Ore., past a cheering audience during the annual Memorial Day parade May 31.

Photo by Cpl. Andrew S. Avitt

Large sound marches through small town

11 Jun 2010 | Cpl. Andrew S. Avitt

The small, coastal town of Reedsport Ore., home to roughly 4,000 people, teemed with patriotism May 31 as residents lined the streets awaiting the city’s renowned Memorial Day parade. Shops were closed and grills were lit as the sound of the Combat Center Band resonated down Fir Avenue.

“Half the band is here,” stated Chief Warrant Officer 2 Stephen Giove in a pep talk to the band just before starting off on the parade route. “Remember— small size, large sound,” an instruction the 21 members of the Twentynine Palms-based band held true to during their march.

The band made two complete laps around the city’s central block, accompanied by members of local fire and police departments and floats from local businesses and clubs before starting the Memorial Day ceremony outside the downtown courthouse.

“There’s a Norman Rockwell character to our celebration here, in all the best ways,” said Keith Tymchuk, the mayor of Reedsport, during his opening remarks at the ceremony. “This is the most American day of the year. We celebrate the sacrifices of the veterans here, and those who are not here, and what they have been able to make for us.”

The band provided music during the ceremony, which hundreds attended, to include veterans from World War II to current members of all five military branches.

Although a somber event, a few hearty laughs were had by the crowd thanks to Giove who is known by the residents of Reedsport for his jovial remarks between songs.

During the performance, Giove enticed an unsuspecting C.C. Barber, 2009’s Miss Oregon, to the front of the band and casually passed off his conducting baton to the pageant winner to conduct the next song, “Washington Post.”

An agreeable band performed the song under the unorthodox conducting techniques and later unanimously agreed Barber was welcome to conduct the band during future events.

After the ceremony, Cpl. Andrew Bush, a guitar player with the Combat Center Band, reflected on his experience playing for the quiet town of Reedsport.

“The Reedsport crowd is one of the best we perform for,” he said. “They are the most enthusiastic. They are there two hours before the parade even starts, and when we play the Marines' Hymn, they all stand up. Even though a lot of them aren’t Marines, it isn’t their song, but they still stand up because it’s our song. That was really something.”

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms