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The 144th Army Band has a rich and illustrious history which can be traced back over 150 years.  The earliest recognized period of the 144th Army Band was when it was formed as the 33rd Illinois Volunteer Regiment Band in 1861.  While a part of the 33rd the unit consisted of only 17 bandsmen who served the nation by providing musical support for troops during the Civil War.  The band was lead by bandmasters Augustus Woodward and C.S. Elder, both from Lexington, IL.  Due to financial constraints, the time the band was disbanded on August 16, 1862.

During WWI the 33rd Division Band was mobilized at Camp Logan, Texas to support the war.  Under the command of Major General George Bell, Jr. and Brigadier General H. D. Todd, Jr. the 33rd took part in several operations in France such as the Battle of Hamel, the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, the Somme Offensive and St. Mihiel.  While fighting the Germans the unit helped secure the Allies victory.  The 33rd returned to the United States in May of 1919 and was inactivated at Camp Grant, IL.

During WWII the 33rd was activated on March 5, 1941 and was sent overseas on July 7, 1943 to contribute to the campaign against the Japanese at both New Guinea, and Luzon, Philippines.  In addition to receiving six Presidential Unit Citations for their efforts in the war, the 33rd went on to join the occupational forces on the home islands of the Japanese until February 28, 1946 when the Division was once again disbanded.

In the 1950’s and 1960’s the unit was reorganized and re-designated several times until it was officially designated on February 1, 1968 as the 144th Army Band based out of Camp Lincoln in Springfield, IL.  The unit became a part of the Joint Forces Headquarters for the next 40 years until 2009 when the unit was realigned under the 65th Troop Command Brigade.

Besides musical performances the 144th Army Band has been activated for civil defense several times.  In 1989 the 144th Army Band was activated during Operation Just Cause in which the band deployed to Panama to assist in deposing the military dictator Manuel Noriega.

In 1993 and in 2008 the 144th Army Band was deployed to the Illinois border in response to the flooding of the Mississippi River.  During this  activation the unit helped save civilian homes and property from devastation.

Today the band supports a wide variety of civilian and military events, such as parades, military ceremonies, sporting events, music festivals, government functions, memorials, funerals, and public concerts.

Historical notes created by SGT Richard McLean, unit historian.