Battle trained and stage perfected: USMC ‘Pacific Woodwind Quintet’ performs, recruits in Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE -- They fight for freedom in every corner of the world. All United States Marines are trained for battle -- but some are also trained for the stage. They hail from across the nation, with different backgrounds and education -- united by their passion to play and protect.

"I knew I wanted to perform," said Cpl. Aaron Sanchez.

Ssgt. Amanda Kranendonk

"Rifleman first, then musician," said Ssgt. Amanda Kranendonk.

The Marine Corps Forces Pacific Woodwind Quintet is one of 10 Marine Corps bands. They're trained for the battlefield and then as professional musicians.

"I auditioned and made the band. Then went to boot camp, combat training and then the Naval School of Music," said Ssgt. Kranendonk.

Each band performs more than 100 times a year, across the nation and around the world.

"They just told us they went to the Netherlands and China," said Marleney Richiez.

Cpl. Aaron Sanchez

The Quintet was in Wisconsin Tuesday, Jan. 23 -- encouraging Milwaukee students to consider a career in the Corps.

"I saw a military band come to my university and preform and I knew I wanted to do that. I wanted to be a part of that," said Cpl. Sanchez.

Being paid to play is a great benefit.

"The level that they were able to play and the quality, it was really good," said Raine Cich.

Playing for the men and women who served before them is the ultimate honor.

"When we play the Marine's Hymn, they get up no matter what and stand proudly for the Marine's Hymn," said Ssgt. Kranendonk.

Like the melodies they play, these Marines hope their pride is catchy and inspires students to join their ranks.

The Woodwind Quintet is playing a public concert Wednesday evening, Jan. 24 at Oak Creek High School. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. If you're interested in learning more about the band, and how to enlist, CLICK HERE.

Fun facts about the Marine Corps bands:

  • Eight of the bands are stationed state-side. One is in Hawaii (the band that stopped in Milwaukee). The other in Japan.
  • Band members change units every three years, allowing them to play with all the different bands -- including the rock band and ceremony bands, as well as horn and clarinet choirs, and Woodwind and Brass small ensembles.
  • About half of all band members enlist after high school. The other half join while in college or after they graduate.
  • The Corps sends its music instructors to the schools and towns of students who want to try out. It’s a competitive process.
  • These Marines are also taught how to fix their instruments. Some are also trained as instrument technicians and conductors.