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Fanfare Newsletter

July/August 2012, Volume 33 Number 4
  • A Message from the Commanding Officer
  • WAVES Celebrate 70th Anniversary
  • Navy Band Celebrates Alunmi Weekend
  • Spotlight on...
    Lt. Cmdr. Walt Cline
  • In Memoriam

A Message from the Commanding Officer

Captain Brian O. Walden

You may remember from the last issue of fanfare that this year we’ve begun celebrating the bicentennial of the War of 1812. Last month, we helped officially launch the bicentennial at the Star-Spangled Sailabration in Baltimore. Musician 1st Class Kenny Ray Horton sang the national anthem to an appreciative crowd at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the Concert Band, Commodores and Cruisers performed public concerts at the Inner Harbor and Fort McHenry, and the Sea Chanters performed at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. If that wasn’t enough, the Sea Chanters also appeared on both “The Today Show” on NBC and “Fox and Friends” on the Fox News Channel, promoting the Navy to a national audience.

In this issue, “Spotlight” features the band’s executive officer, Lt.Cmdr. Walt Cline. He’s an outstanding and talented officer and musician, and is having an enormous impact on the organization. I’m lucky to have him as my XO.

Over the next two months, we’ll be performing 58 public concerts. In addition, we’re supporting our counterparts in the Royal Australian Navy Band, Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Band from Britain, and the Canadian Royal Navy Band. The Concert Band and the Royal Australian Navy Band will collaborate on two joint concerts, and our operations office assisted the British and Canadian bands in finding concert venues. I’m also looking forward to hosting Navy Band alumni this summer for their biennial events and concert on August 6th at the U.S. Navy Memorial.

Finally, I want to congratulate our newest Master Chief Musicians: Master Chief Musicians Jim Armstrong, Jeff Knutson and Mike Schmitz. All three are outstanding leaders and perfect examples of why the Navy Band is “The World’s Finest.” Make sure to follow us online, whether our website, Facebook, Twitter or blog, to find out who our newest senior chiefs and chiefs will be!

WAVES Celebrate 70th Anniversary

by Master Chief Musician Aaron Porter

U.S. Naval Training Center, women's reserve, New York. Some of the school's trainees march in formation behind their color guard, during World War II. This training center, located in the facilities of Hunter College, provided basic training for Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard women recruits. Note the center's flag, featuring the fouled anchor and propeller device of the women's reserve.

To many entering the military today, the idea of men and women serving together isn’t unusual at all. However, not all that long ago in our military history, the idea was met by some with skepticism, if not downright scorn. Not long after the “day that shall live in infamy,” the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese Navy, the shortsightedness of preventing women from serving became apparent to even the most ardent critics.

This July will mark the 70th anniversary of the law, passed by Congress and signed by President Roosevelt, authorizing the creation of the Navy WAVES, or Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service. The Navy Band is celebrating this anniversary in our Concerts on the Avenue series, performed on select Tuesday evenings at the Navy Memorial this summer. (Please go to for more information). The contributions made by these pioneer women of naval service were significant; while they were barred from performing in combat, they freed men to fight by filling such traditional roles as secretaries and clerks, and also held jobs in fields previously unthinkable for women such as aviation mechanics, judge advocate general corps, communications, intelligence, science and technology.

The road to creating this new branch of the Navy was lengthy, and not without significant challenges to change the hearts and minds of many who clung to stereotypes of “women’s work” and the old naval superstition claiming bad luck to any ship that had a woman aboard. By 1942, only a small contingent of Navy nurses remained as a reminder of women’s contributions to World War I. In the intervening years legislation had changed, limiting military service to men only, so the law had to be rewritten, and, encouraged by the creation of the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC), first lady Eleanor Roosevelt herself convinced Congress to authorize the WAVES. Unlike their Army counterparts, however, WAVES were not auxiliary; they served as an official part of the Navy, they held the same rank, rate and pay as male Sailors, and were subject to military discipline (the WAAC became the Women’s Army Corps [WAC] in 1943, and achieved military parity similar to their WAVE counterparts).

From the beginning, the number of women eager to enlist in the WAVES was huge, so managing the recruiting, training and administration of this new service was a top priority. These efforts were so successful that by fall 1942, the WAVES counted 10,000 women on active duty. Eventually, the design of uniforms became paramount. Josephine Forrestal, the wife of the Secretary of the Navy, asked the noted French-American fashion designer, Main Rousseau Boucher, to design a functional and fashionable women’s uniform. Today’s Navy female uniforms still feature many of his design elements.

With tens of thousands of women serving in non-traditional roles, it was inevitable that some would push the boundaries of what was commonly thought as a “woman’s place,” even in this new environment. One such WAVE was Kathleen Robertson, who helped change Navy policy in a spectacular way. While attending parachute school at Naval Station Lakehurst, in New Jersey, she impressed her instructors by stepping out of her normal duties of inspection, repair and packing of parachutes and eagerly tested one in a jump. From that point on, a WAVE parachute rigger could jump if she wished, but was not required to do so.

WAVES 1943
WAVES arrive by barge, at NAS Anacostia, Washington, D.C., Oct. 30, 1943. The boat was used for transportation to and from the Pentagon during World War II. The Washington Navy Yard is in the right distance. WAVES are identified as (presumably from left to right): Suzy Sidman, Rosemary (no surname given), Wanda Tenpas, Vonda Bronson, Peggy Horton, Bernadine Schibler, Ceah Bawlby, Frances Schneiter, Thelma Young and Nadine Dare.
Another pioneering WAVE is well known to Navy Band members and readers of fanfare. Marie McLean grew up with a love of music, singing in church and school choirs, and often gave recitals in her home town of Adams, Mass. Driven by patriotism and “a love of the Navy uniform,” she enlisted as a WAVE in 1942, and was in the first group to be sent to boot camp. After graduation, she went to work as a yeoman in Washington, D.C. In an effort to help with recruitment, she put her musical talents to use and was soon singing on WRC radio on the Bill Herson Morning Show. The leader of the Navy Band, Lt. Charles Brendler, who was searching for a female vocalist, heard her on the show and convinced the Navy to transfer her to the band. Officially, McLean was still a yeoman working as a secretary for Brendler, but she also served as the band’s first female vocalist, long before women were admitted to the musician rating. Marie passed away on Dec. 6, 2010. She will always be remembered by band members as a pioneer in the WAVES, and in Navy music.

The WAVES showed, without a lot of fanfare (pardon the pun!) but through a lot of hard work and perseverance, that a “woman’s place” in the military is wherever she’s needed and can contribute. They blazed a trail for today’s female Sailors, who serve in virtually every rank and rate, and proved that their place is on the roll call of the “Greatest Generation.”

Navy Band Celebrates Alunmi Weekend

by Master Chief Musician Aaron Porter

2010 Navy Band Alumni
Navy Band alumni in Sail Loft after the 2010 rehearsal.

On Monday, August 6, 2012 , the Navy Band welcomed back old friends in a concert at the Navy Memorial, celebrating the culmination of our biennial alumni weekend. A favorite event of Navy Band members, alumni weekend is an opportunity to reconnect with shipmates, share “sea stories” from years past and perform together once more. Newer members enjoy hearing tales of “the good old days” from alumni and connecting with the living history and heritage of the band. Please join your United States Navy Band for what promises to be a night of music and fond memories.

Spotlight on... Lt. Cmdr. Walt Cline

by Senior Chief Musician Juan Vazquez

Lt. Cmdr. Walt Cline

Many duties at the Navy Band are “behind the scenes” and go unnoticed. Thanks to the outstanding contribution and tireless efforts of the Navy Band’s executive officer, Lt. Cmdr. Walt Cline, the band runs smoothly and effectively every day of the year.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am from Myersville, Md., a small town outside of Frederick. Coming from a musical family, I was fortunate to attend Middletown High School, which had a very good music program. During my senior year, I auditioned on trombone for the Navy music program in the historic Sail Loft in Washington, for Master Chief Musician Jeff Taylor. The Navy Band building which houses the Sail Loft, interestingly enough, is where I work today. In June 1988, I went to basic training in Orlando, Fla., and attended the school of music in Little Creek, Va. My recruiter was unfamiliar with the particulars about the music program, so I joined as an E-1/seaman recruit. As a trombonist, I felt so fortunate to be able to play trombone for a living.

What is the role of an executive officer?

My role as the executive officer, or XO, is the same as any XO in the Navy: to allow my boss the freedom to focus on the quality of the music, lead the musicians and set the vision and policies of the command. I am part of the command triad, along with the commanding officer and the senior enlisted leader. As XO it is my duty to support the captain’s vision and policies, and carry out day-to-day operations, administration and personnel support tasks. There’s a lot of paperwork, policing, and problem solving involved; but if I do my job correctly, every musician and unit gets the support they need to perform their jobs at the highest level.

Thankfully, our command triad is a close knit team and we get outstanding support from our senior Navy leadership. I truly feel we have the best Sailors in the Navy – every member is a subject matter expert, representing the Navy and the best that America has to offer.

What led you to give up performing and become an officer?

When I first joined, I did not realize it was even possible to become an officer. After 12 years as trombonist in the fleet, I applied for the LDO (limited duty officer) program as a first class petty officer and was selected on the first try. While I miss playing trombone, I enjoy the sounds from the front of the ensemble even more. I really enjoy the instruments and voices that I had not had the opportunity to work with prior to this duty.

What are the differences between life in the fleet and here in Washington, D.C.?

Fleet bands are filled with diverse backgrounds and levels of musicianship. Musicians in the fleet play whatever style is needed. If they don’t already have the skill they develop it quickly. They are versatile, impactful and changes are fast paced in the fleet. The musicians here at the Navy Band are versatile as well, but we hire them because they are specialists at what they do. Their training is extensive and focused and we hire to specific openings. It’s not enough to be flawless on the day of the audition; you have to be the best every day. There are highly talented candidates we must turn away due to the lack of openings.

Both groups have domestic and international components to their mission. Navy bands perform ceremonies, public concerts, parades, outreach and Navy awareness, recruiter support, diplomatic protocol, partnering with foreign services, State Department and embassy support along with student and school mentorship - we are a federal resource for the public. I believe that, without a doubt, our most important duty is to honor our fallen heroes and to show our veterans that their service is remembered and appreciated by today’s Navy. Navy musicians are in a support and service role. We do have rock stars; we just don’t treat them like rock stars. We haul, setup and tear down our own gear. Our Sailors work long hours on and off duty honing their craft. They work nights, weekends and holidays. Musicians deploy and tour. We support the warfighter. And, occasionally, musicians go into harm’s way.

I still think that we have the best job in the Navy. We get to tell the Navy’s story. And it’s a great story to tell.

Give us a typical day for an executive officer.

There hasn’t been a typical day yet at the Navy Band. I generally arrive ready to go and start by checking in with the senior enlisted leader. Then it’s off to checking emails, touring the building and briefing the CO. I check in with our operations office (several times during the day), publics affairs, admin and occasionally a department update from our ensign. I often have back to back meetings with the senior personnel. I “kick the tires” and “pull the threads” to test our processes.

Share some highlights from your naval career.

Three program highlights...I enjoyed each and every trombone section I played in as an enlisted player, each and every deployment, and marching in parades as the crowd stands and cheers for the Navy.

Here in D.C., I would have to say checking on board, visiting our premier vocal group, the Sea Chanters, on tour, and listening to all of our outstanding groups perform.

Are there any goals that you are currently working towards?

I enjoy conducting works that are new for me. I am really trying to learn more about the War of 1812 and how to convey that part of our naval heritage to the public. I would like to get back to continuing my college studies if time allows.

What do you enjoy doing when you are not working?

When I am not at work or preparing for work, I run the trails or visit Washington’s great museums.


In Memoriam, Kenneth W. Arsers 1930 - 2012

Kenneth W. ArsersThe Navy Band mourns the passing of former member and French horn player Chief Musician Kenneth W. Arsers. Arsers began his studies on the horn at the age of 10 and joined the Navy Band in 1948.

Kenneth Wilson Arsers was born on March 6, 1930 in Kingsville, Texas, to Clarence and Bessie Arsers. He began his musical training under his father, who taught instrumental music in the Chatfield, Minn., public schools. He quickly became an outstanding horn player, winning many awards at state music contests. Upon graduation from high school in 1948, he became a member of the Navy Band, joining his brother Bill in the horn section. Another brother, Sam, joined the trumpet section in 1956. This was the first time that three brothers served together at the Navy Band. After retirement in 1969, Arsers managed several health clubs in the Washington D.C., area, and in 1976 became the assistant manager of the concert hall at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. In 2003 he returned to Minnesota, and lived in New Ulm until his death.