Photo Information

Sgt. Kevin Ashley, a 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW) band drum major, stands beside two members of the L.A. Scotts, a pipe band from Los Angeles, prior to the 152nd Scottish Highland Gathering and Games in San Ramon, Calif., Sept. 1. In addition to performing concerts, 3rd MAW band members built relationships with pipe bands from around the world including Scotland, Canada and the United States.

Photo by Sgt. David Bickel

Bands and bagpipes: 3rd MAW band performs at “152nd Scottish Highland Gathering and Games”

7 Sep 2017 | Sgt. David Bickel 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing

Marines with the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW) Band attended the 152nd Scottish Highland Festival and Games in Pleasanton, California, Aug. 31 through Sept. 4. 

The band acted as one of the primary performing groups for the opening and closing ceremonies.

"We start out with the opening ceremony where we play a small concert, allowing people to hear us by ourselves and get to know us through our music," said Gunnery Sgt. Victor Ney, the Enlisted Conductor with the 3rd MAW Band. "Following a break during the pipe band competition, we would return to play a dual performance with the L.A. Scotts band and the massed bands. This closed out the evening every day."

The band's attendance allowed the people attending the Scottish Highland Gathering and Games an up close and personal look at a United States Marine. In addition to their concerts and performances, the band interacted with many of the pipe bands from around the world including Scotland, Canada and the United States.

"The people that come here from around the world know the reputation of the U.S. Marines but many of them have never interacted with them," stated retired Maj. Brooks Wilson, the military liaison for the Scottish Highland Games Caledonia Association. "As you walk around the fairgrounds, you will find that the crowd is extremely patriotic, whether it be Americans or people from around the world. Having the Marines here ties in that military aspect."

Originally, pipe bands were strictly comprised of military personnel whose purpose was to intimidate the enemy as they marched into battle. The presence of the 3rd MAW Band connected the festival to its military roots.

"The pipe bands and the military bands have a long history together," said Ney. "Every army or military had a pipe band and they were used to instill fear on the battlefield. This allows us to come together and bring back the history of where we both came from."

In total, the band performed two opening ceremonies, two closing ceremonies and two evening concerts. Four of these performances were performed in conjunction with the L.A. Scotts, a pipe band from Los Angeles, California. 

"My favorite part of the events is watching the Marine band perform," said Steve Henricksen, the Scottish Highland Gathering and Games’ sound chairman. "The closing ceremonies allowed the Marines to join together with nearly one-thousand pipers and drummers … it just takes your breath away."

During the course of this trip, the 3rd MAW band performed for more than 20,000 people.

"People around the community as well as those who have attended this event for many years view the Marines performing as their Marines,” said Ney. "The biggest honor for me is when we, as a band, get to travel out in the communities, build a relationship with them and show them what their Marines are doing."

More Media