It’s nice to have the band play; it picks you right up when your tail is dragging the prairie. We hadn’t had anything but canned music at first and that only for parade and calls. But the powers-that-be had found out early who could play and who couldn’t; instruments were provided and a regimental band was organized, all our own – even the director and the drum major were boots.
It didn’t mean they got out of anything. Oh no! It just meant they were allowed and encouraged to do it on their own time, practicing evenings and Sundays and such – and that they got to strut and countermarch and show off at parade instead of being in ranks with their platoons.
We couldn’t take a parade band out on route march, of course, because no special allowances were made for the band. Tubas and bass drums had to stay behind because a boy in the band had to carry a full kit, same as everybody, and could only manage an instrument small enough to add to his load. But the M.I. has band instruments which I don’t believe anybody else has, such as a little box hardly bigger than a harmonica, an electric gadget which does an amazing job of faking a big horn and is played the same way. Come band call when you are headed for the horizon, each bandsman sheds his kit without stopping, his squadmates split it up, and he trots to the column position of the color company and starts blasting.