141st - 560 Band History
Published September 16, 2008
The band was activated in Birmingham, Alabama, on July 11, 1942, and the following month they transferred to Greenville Army Air Base, South Carolina. Originally designated the 60th Army Air Force Band in December 1943 it became the 560th Army band and was transferred to the 3rd Air Force. In March 1944, the 3rd Air Force redesignated the band as the 560th Army Air Force Band. It was assigned to the 1st Air Force in February 1945 and remained at Greenville Army Air Base until ordered overseas. The band departed Greenville on April 4th and arrived in Los Angeles by train on April 8th, then departed by ship for India on April 16, 1945.
The band served in India under the commanding general, of the India-Burma theater, from May 21, 1945, until it was deactivated from active service on March 15, 1946. During its inactive status, the War Department allocated the 560th Army Air Force Band to the National Guard and later to the Washington Air National Guard. Now designated the 560th Air Force Band, it was authorized to organize personnel as an Air National Guard unit March 1948. With a minimum authorized strength of one warrant officer and three enlisted men, the 560th AF Band was extended federal recognition and activated in the Washington Air National Guard at Fort George Wright, Spokane, Washington, on April 18, 1948. The band was then transferred a short distance to Geiger Field at the Spokane Airport.
The original membership in the 560th Air Force Band was mainly graduate and undergraduate students from Eastern Washington University in Cheney, Washington. Chief Warrant Officer Ben Halgramson, the original band director and commander, was a professor of music at Eastern Washington University. The core of the group was centered around a "show band" concept that attracted some of the finest musicians in the Northwest. The band developed most of its highly touted reputation from radio, television and live performances throughout the Pacific Northwest.
The 560th was ordered to active federal service during the Korean conflict on March 1, 1951 and was assigned to the Western Air Defense Force, Air Defense Command. It moved to the former Larson Air Force Base at Moses Lake in Central Washington, then to McChord Air Force Base near Tacoma, Washington. The band served at McChord AFB from October 1951 until its inactivation from federal service on December 31, 1952. Effective January 1, 1953, the 560th Air Force Band returned to the Washington Air National Guard. When its assigned unit changed missions and became the 141st Air Refueling Wing, the band moved with the wing to its present location at Fairchild Air Force Base.
Captain Jim Phillips is the current band commander. Two former 560th Air Force Band commanders, LTC William L Maxson and Colonel Michael D Delaney, have both gone on to become the Chief of Air National Guard Bands. Also of note is that former 560th Band Superintendent CMSgt Thomas E Schager was selected as the first Enlisted Program Manager for all Air National Guard Bands.
Overall, the dedication of the Air National Guard Band of the Northwest towards quality and professional music excellence, presents an exceptional portrait of the United States Air Force and the Washington Air National Guard.