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Fitch Marching Band pays tribute to veterans in nation's capital

April 26, 2018
The Town Crier

On Friday April 13, 2018, after a day of touring in the nation's capital, members of the Austintown Fitch Band paid tribute to three fallen soldiers in the Vietnam War who graduated from Austintown Fitch High School. Class of 1962 graduates Lt. Charles Brown, and Sgt. James Prommersberger and Class of 1966 graduate Darryl Dombrowski were casualties of that war. For the evening presentation, Band Director Wesley O'Connor selected four band members who are also members of the Fitch Speech Team to read a letter written by Fitch teacher Kristin O'Neill, the daughter of Prommersberger. O'Neill wrote that she was honored that the band members were remembering their "hometown heroes." The students read about each graduate and how they gave their lives protecting their fellow soldiers. O'Neill noted that on Monday April 16 it would be 51 years since her father had died. She compared the band members to the Fitch Heroes and encouraged then to help others.

"Be that person that looks out for others, stand up for those that may not be able to stand up for themselves, let others know how important they are and that they matter," O'Neill wrote.

Following the reading of O'Neill's letter, O'Connor and the band's drum majors led a moment of silence and then saluted the wall as the band members quietly sang the Fitch High Alma Mater. The band obtained permission from the National Park Service to place a custom-made wreath with the names of the three Fitch grads at the Wall.

Article Photos

The Fitch Band on Saturday April 14, 2018 just prior to marching in the National Cherry Blossom parade in Washington, DC

Also on Friday April 13, 2018, in preparation for the Austintown Fitch Band's performance in the National Cherry Blossom Parade on Saturday April 14th, the band was hosted by the United States Air Force Ceremonial Brass. The Air Force Band conducted a Marching and Drum Clinic at their Headquarters at Joint Base Anacostia Bolling. The Ceremonial Brass is made up a select group of 37 musicians who perform at all military functions at Arlington National Cemetery. The band members had a marching practice outdoors at the base soccer field conducted by Senior Master Sergeant Daniel Valadie, in the shadow of the nation's Capitol building. The clinic moved indoors where the drummers were then taken to the base's drum room where they were instructed by Master Sergeant Tom Rarick. The brass and woodwinds performed with Technical Sergeant Brandon Jones in the Air Force Band rehearsal hall. The clinicians gave tips on marching, proper breathing techniques, posture and stick height.

On Sunday April 15th, Austintown Fitch Band placed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. Band Director Wesley O'Connor, Assistant Band Director Jeremy McClaine, Senior Drum Major Robert Malizia and Junior Drum Major Nick Mattiussi placed the wreath on behalf of Austintown Fitch High School, as the entire band watched. The band was in our nation's capital to perform in the National Cherry Blossom Parade. Following the wreath laying ceremony, Dr. Frank Tracz, Band Director of Kansas State University met with O'Connor and the band members outside the cemetery's memorial amphitheater. Dr. Tracz was O'Connor's band director at Kansas State and encouraged and inspired O'Connor to become a High School Band Director. Dr. Tracz was in Washington to perform at the Kennedy Center.



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