U.S. Women of the Air Force Band Reunion Concert
WIPL hosts pre-performance reception
The original U.S. Women of the Air Force (WAF) Band, active from 1951 to 1961, created a distinctive and exceptional chapter for the U.S. Air Force and women's history. Over its 10-year history, the U.S. WAF Band had 235 members, with as many as 50 women musicians comprising the band at any given time. It served as one of the few opportunities for women to perform as professional musicians. The band marched in the two inaugural parades for President Dwight Eisenhower as well as for President J.F. Kennedy, and performed for VA hospitals and in countless parades and concerts.
Members of the band began organizing reunions in 1997. During the last 10 years, the group has performed reunion concerts across the country. Four of the band’s current members are residents of the Carolina coast. The WAF Band is the first all-woman military band still performing.
Women in Philanthropy for Coastal Carolina University hosted a private reception for the band members prior to their performance in Wheelwright Auditorium on Oct. 19.
In recognition of the WAF's historical role and contining commitment to its original mission, WIPL President Marjorie Thompson (pictured above, left) presented a resolution to WAF Band member Jan Wurst of Little River, S.C. (right). In addition, the Coastal Carolina University Board of Trustees prepared a resolution stating that the WAF is "a treasured part of our national military history;" the resolution was presented on their behalf by Eddie Dyer, CCU's executive vice president/COO.
The text of the resolution from WIPL follows:
State of South Carolina
County of Horry
Women in Philanthropy & Leadership
Coastal Carolina University
WHEREAS, THE U.S. WOMEN OF THE AIR FORCE (WAF) BAND was originally established on January 14, 1951, to perform at base functions, but was soon playing on television, on the radio, in parades and at public concerts;
WHEREAS, the WAF Band members were pioneers in the quest for equality and empowerment of women in the Armed Forces, and by extension, in the nation and the world, before it was a cause célèbre;WHEREAS, Captain MaryBelle Nissly, conductor of the band from soon after its inception until it was disbanded in 1961, was determined that the WAF Band provide a pathway whereby women who desired to make a career out of service in the Air Force could receive grade ratings advancement and rank promotions;
WHEREAS, the WAF Band has graced the Coastal Carolina University campus and the surrounding community with its talent by choosing our location for its reunion concert twice in the last decade;
WHEREAS, the WAF Band members continue to inspire us, both as talented musicians and vibrant women who remain valuable contributors to our society;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Women in Philanthropy & Leadership of Coastal Carolina University extends its appreciation, admiration and respect to THE U.S. WOMEN OF THE AIR FORCE (WAF) BAND.
WAF members visit with WIPL board member Charmaine Tomczyk (left) prior to the performance; (below) the U.S. Women of the Air Force Band in concert at Coastal Carolina University. The group performed The Star Spangled Banner, It’s a Grand Old Flag, Yankee-Doodle, and a Glenn Miller medley, among others, as well as songs representing each branch of the U.S. Armed Forces.