They are faithful protectors of our country and watchers of the sky, but the United States Air Force flies far beyond the wild blue yonder.
Hundreds of Reitz High School students saw it firsthand Tuesday morning.
The Air Force is built with 300,000 airmen and more than 5,000 airplanes, but it’s just 20 ladies and gentlemen who showcase their service to America with strings.
“It’s special to be part of,” says Capt. Dustin Doyle, leader of the band.
There’s a lot to learn in harmony and rhythm with dozens of moving parts acting as one. It seems like an organized chaos in the Reitz theater. Doyle and his unit are giving a crash course to be the best.
“They use the word excellence for the Air Force and they use it for a reason,” Doyle says.
Students have just a few minutes to spend with the elite musicians, so they’ve got to soak it all in. They practice the theme song from HBO’s Game of Thrones a couple of times.
“I learned how to get better sound quality and learn intonation easily,” says senior, Emmett Dean. He has played since he was a kid.
He’s just like Senior Master Sgt. Bryce Bunner, who joined the Air Force band in 1999 after graduating from Reitz.
“The last time I played on that stage must have been in 1993 with the Reitz Orchestra,” Bunner says, beaming with pride.
Bunner and the string band call our nation’s capital home. They often play for the top brass in U.S. government.
No matter what, Bunner will always have a piece of Evansville with him. With every note from his violin there’s a hint of Panther pride.
“My mom played in the Reitz orchestra, I played in the Reitz Orchestra, and my brother,” he says.
With tunes from Johnny Cash, Charlie Daniels, and Michael Jackson, the thunder rolls through Reitz. What else do you expect from the Air Force?
“A kid like me from Evansville can do it,” Bunner says smiling, “anybody can do it.”
(This story was originally published November 14, 2017)