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Who We are - About the U.S. Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps

The Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps is the only unit of its kind in the armed forces, and is part of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard). The Fife and Drum Corps is stationed at Fort Myer, VA.

The musicians of this unit recall the days of the American Revolution as they perform in uniforms patterned after those worn by the musicians of General George Washington's Continental Army. Military musicians of the period wore the reverse colors of the regiments to which they were assigned. The uniforms worn by the members of the Corps are dated circa 1784, and consist of black tricorn hats, white wigs, waistcoats, colonial coveralls, and distinct red regimental coats.

The drum major of the unit is distinguished from the other musicians by his headgear, the light-infantry Cap. In contrast to modern Army bands, and as an indication of prominence, he carries an espontoon instead of the standard mace. The espontoon is an 18th century weapon carried by officers. However, it is used by the drum major to issue silent commands to the Corps.

The 69-member Corps uses 10-hole fifes, handmade rope-tensioned drums and single-valve bugles, that bring to life the exciting sounds of the continental army. While traveling, the marching strength of the unit is normally 22 musicians and support personnel.

The Fife and Drum Corps also features two Historical Music Ensembles - specialty groups that revive the sounds of period flute and trumpet music at official ceremonies, special events and professional venues.

As an official representative of the U.S. Army, the Corps averages approximately 500 performances annually. The Corps has entertained millions of people in major parades, pageants and historical celebrations throughout the United States; and has served America as a goodwill ambassador as far away as Europe, Australia and Canada. Major sporting events the Corps has performed at include NCAA bowl games, NBA games, NFL games including Super Bowl XVI, the Kentucky Derby, the Indianapolis 500, and the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid NY.

In support of the president, the Corps performs at all armed-forces arrival ceremonies for visiting dignitaries and heads of state at the White House, and has participated in every Presidential Inaugural Parade since President John F. Kennedy's in 1961.

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