USAFE band: setting the tone

Story and photo by Airman 1st Class Hailey Haux
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Nine different ensembles make up the U.S. Air Forces in Europe band who harness the power of music to inspire long lasting impressions, support the global Air Force mission and increase Airmen morale.

“We perform musical events from major command level down to the squadron level,” said Tech. Sgt. Craig Bowman, USAFE band vocalist. “We also perform at community events by request of commanders, chiefs, first sergeants and civilian leaders.”

The USAFE band has performed at a variety of change of command ceremonies, dining-ins and -outs, retirement ceremonies, military balls and community outreach concerts locally and throughout Europe in support of the Air Force mission.

Most recently, USAFE’s Touch ‘N Go played at the 2012 ESPN Armed Forces Classic basketball game. Touch ‘N Go is one of many groups in the USAFE band and their set list includes rock, country, pop, and R&B, covering the complete spectrum of American popular music.

“It was great to be a part of the overall production of the Armed Forces Classic,” said Staff Sgt. Robert Browning, USAFE’s Touch ‘N Go percussionist. “Getting to play for a worldwide audience and having friends and family be able to see it back home was immense.”

Being in the band isn’t all performance and rehearsal. The band members also have collateral duties for the unit: finance, supply, transportation, operations and public affairs.

“Having collateral duties in addition to our primary duty as musicians can be challenging,” Bowman said. “To rise above that challenge, we rehearse and maintain Air Force specialty code skill level standards, just as all Air Force career fields do.”

Despite its challenges, as Airman musicians, they have a job to bring people together.

“Music is a powerful tool that brings people together from foreign nations and cultures,” Bowman said. “It serves as the very fabric of building partnerships with other nations and their military forces, communities and civic leaders.”

With an average of 300 performances a year and live audiences ranging from 50 to 5,000, the USAFE band gets the opportunity to reach out to thousands of people with their music.

“It is a diplomatic art form that bolsters the Air Force mission,” Bowman said. “Just as aircraft or ground forces do, but in a unique way.”

The USAFE band started caroling in the 1960s as a gift to European citizens and military families. The caroling mission is to bring holiday cheer and morale during this festive season.

“Caroling is a fantastic way to reach out to our military and civilian community,” said Tech. Sgt. Andrew Benton, USAFE band pianist. “It’s a wonderful way to give back during the holiday season. Caroling provides a unique opportunity to interact with our audience. Our goal is to put smiles on faces.”

For details about individual ensembles or how to join, visit their website at