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Staff Sgt. Hugh E. Wurts, the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing drum major, orders the 3rd MAW Band conducts the band at the parade field aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Oct. 16. Wurts also knows how to conduct a band, but his primary focus is to lead band by marching them during ceremonies.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Manuel F. Guerrero

Drum major in tune with 3rd MAW Band

14 Oct 2009 | Lance Cpl. Manuel F. Guerrero

Many associate the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing Band with the style, grace and professionalism its drum major is able to elicit- without making a sound.

Staff Sgt. Hugh E. Wurts, the 3rd MAW Band Drum Major, leads the ceremonial band using no verbal cues, only meticulous, curt movements from his hands and mace.

Ever since Wurts attended the Armed Forces School of Music in Norfolk, VA., to better his skills as a trumpet player, he knew he wanted to be the man leading the band with a mace. Since then, Wurts has served as a drum major twice; quite an accomplishment considering there are only 17 drum majors Corps wide.

“I used to see drum majors lead bands and since then I wanted to do what they did,” said Wurts. “I started learning how to spin a mace when I was a Lance Corporal.”

Wurts took on more responsibilities as a junior Marine, setting himself apart from the rest. He worked in the band administrative sections and sought help from Marines above him.

He knew that to be a drum major, he had to excel as a Marine as well as a band member. Wurts became a Marine Corps Martial Arts Instructor and prepared himself as if going to a promotion board. He went back to Armed Forces School of Music in Norfolk, VA., to take the Intermediate Course, a class required for band members interested in becoming a drum major.

Wruts fulfilled his dream in 2007 when he became drum major of Marine Band San Diego at Marine Recruit Depot San Diego. After his permanent change of duty station to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, he became the drum major of the 3rd MAW band.

The time Wurts puts into teaching his Marines as the drum major can be seen in the bands’ flawless performances. Wurts spends countless hours making sure the band’s finished product is good to go.

“What the public sees is actually a small part of what we do,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Edward M. Hayes, the 3rd MAW Band officer. “He is a big part of what we do and makes us successful. He is at the heart of what we do.”

As drum major, Wurts is in charge of every band member, making sure they know what to expect for every performance.

“I have to know every ceremony we do backwards and forwards before we even step off,” said Wurts. “I make sure the band members understand every command I give. Everything I do is for them so that they can do what they need to do.”

His job off the parade field is also extensive, dealing with the band’s schedule and ensuring the band is ready to go. He takes care of all the bands’ commitments, keeping track of them year round.

Wurts shares his knowledge with his junior band members to help further their careers. He has ascended through the Marine Corps ranks and is knowledgeable in anything regarding the band. Marines know they can count on Wurts when they have any band-related questions.

“I have known him for more than a year and I have learned a lot from him,” said Lance Cpl. Vicente Padilla, a clarinetist with the band. “He is always willing to help you become a better Marine and band player. He is my instructor in MCMAP.”

Today, Wurts continues to lead his Marines in parade ceremonies and in Marine Corps life. He knows his trek to being drum major has given him valuable experiences he can pass on to his younger Marines.

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3rd Marine Aircraft Wing