First Marine Division Band plays at NFR

Camp Pendleton’s First Marine Division Band performed prior to the Dec. 12 National Finals Rodeo performance at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas.

The 41-member band opened with a salute to the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines before playing the Star-Spangled Banner prior to the rodeo’s seventh go-round.

“I think it’s a great experience and it’s an honor to be able to represent the Marine Corps and the United States at such a prestigious and widely-watched event,” said Gunnery Sgt. Benjamin Becker, a drum major for the Marine Corps band and the unit leader.

The band included seven trumpets, seven clarinets, five trombones, five percussionists, four saxophones, three euphoniums, three sousaphones, two piccolos, and two French horns along with the drum major and two non-playing personnel. The band was joined by the First Marine Division Mounted Color Guard, including four white horses, which presented the colors for the National Anthem. The pre-rodeo ceremony also honored the 70th anniversary of the battle of Guadalcanal (the Marines landed on the Island on Aug. 7, 1942), and a 92-year-old Guadalcanal survivor who now lives in the Las Vegas suburb of Henderson was recognized.

The First Marine Division Band was invited to perform by Boyd Gaming, which sponsored that night’s NFR performance. It was the first rodeo, at least in recent years, for the unit.

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