Leader of the Band

Article excerpt

FORT JACKSON, S.C. - In sixth grade, he picked up his first drumsticks and a love for music was born.

Today, more than 25 years later, and after six years as an Army Reserve musician, Staff Sgt. Chad J. Award received the inaugural 2010 Col. Finley Hamilton Outstanding Military Musician Award during a Feb. 13, 2011, ceremony at the 81st Regional Support Command headquarters here.

The award is given to the ten best military musicians from all branches of the armed forces. A member of the 1 00th Army Reserve Band, Fort Knox, Ky, he was the only Army Reserve musician selected for the honor.

Award's name is now associated with the great musicians who perform with the U.S. Military Academy Band, the U.S. Army Field Band, the U.S. Coast Guard Band and the Navy School of Music.

"This just shows the high caliber of Soldiers we have here in this command," Maj. Gen. Bill Gerety, the commanding general, said during the brief ceremony. "Our bandsmen are more than musicians. They are Soldiers first. Most importantly, they are our front-line ambassadors for not only the Army Reserve but the entire Army."

Growing up, Alward had no musical background, and no one in his Family was a musician. He said he joined the elementary school band because he wanted to do something fun and different.

"It kind of stuck with me," he said about his early years as a percussionist. "Today, I couldn't see myself not having an instrument in my hands."

Award said he has learned all instruments played in a typical Army band, but still favors percussion as his choice of instrument.

"It's what turned me on to music all those years ago," he said about the drums.

At the age of 30, Award made a decision that wasn't easy at the time. And he was not your typical Soldier arriving at basic training. …