Unique to all of the women’s bands that existed in the Army and the other branches of military service throughout American history, the 14th Army Band (WAC) holds the distinction of having been activated the longest. Assuming the lineage of the 400th Army Service Forces Band (WAC), which was formed in 1942 as the first of the five WAC bands organized in World War II, the 14th Army Band (WAC) continued making music as an all female unit until a male warrant officer was assigned as bandmaster in September of 1976.
Originally stationed at Fort Des Moines, Iowa, subsequent assignments relocated the band first to Camp Stoneman, California, then to Fort Meade, Maryland, to Fort Lee, Virginia, and finally, to Fort McClellan, Alabama. Receiving its musical direction under the batons of five female bandmasters throughout its history, the band’s regular duties included performing for regimental parades, march outs, retreats, battalion reviews, basic training graduations, officer training orientations and graduations, opening and closing ceremonies, post functions, charity events, and community concerts. Visually fetching in their concert band uniforms sporting specially authorized white scarves and shoulder braids, the women of the 14th Army Band (WAC) never failed to impress audiences with their multiple talents and versatility showcased in dance bands, jazz combos, Dixieland, German, folk, rock, and choral ensembles.
During its 34-year career, highlights of the 14th Army Band (WAC) included performances at the World’s Fair in New York City in 1956 and the Pentagon in 1963, marching in three presidential inaugural parades in 1953, 1957 and 1961, appearances in the movie “Never Wave at a WAC” and the nationwide television shows of “I’ve Got a Secret,” “Super Circus” and the “Mike Douglas Show,” and tours between 1951 and 1973 that took the band through nearly every state of the Union, as well as to Puerto Rico.
Working to accurately portray the social context of the military and of women during the different eras of the band’s existence and to reconstruct its historical timeline, I invite contributions from all who purport an interest in the 14th Army Band (WAC) and the furtherance of this study. Interview opportunities with surviving band members, directors, and officers are desired, as well as accounts about the band from audience members and individuals from other WAC and male units. Primary source materials and artifacts, such as photographs, newspaper articles, diaries, scrapbooks, programs, public affairs publicity materials, film footage, audio recordings, military records and official government documents would be greatly appreciated. Visit my website .
Alice Peters, conductor