Fans and former members of the Aggie Band will find plenty of good memories and history in the new 125th anniversary edition of The Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band by Mary Jo Powell (Texas A&M University Press, $35 hardcover).
Powell wrote the 100th anniversary edition with her late husband Donald B. Powell, who was a member of the band in the 1950s. The new edition includes the earlier material and updates the band’s history with profiles and photos from the past 25 years. Two chapters cover the current leadership of director Timothy B. Rhea and associate director Col. Jay O. Brewer. Another chapter discusses Aggie Band travel and television appearances.
Powell tells a near-tragic story from the band’s centennial year of 1994, when a Reunion Band of more than 800 former band members joined the Aggie Band on Kyle Field at halftime. As the bands stopped for the presentation of a $1 million check to establish a band endowment, the stadium suddenly went quiet as a Reunion Band member — Jack Jernigan, class of ’56 — collapsed.
His heart stopped beating, but he received immediate medical attention and was revived. Jernigan lived another 20 years after his “death” on Kyle Field.
The two appendix chapters will be of special interest to former band members. The first appendix lists the band’s directors, associate directors, graduate assistants, drum majors, commanding officers and band association presidents from 1894 to the present. The second appendix — covering 72 pages — lists alphabetically most of the 10,000 young men and women who have marched in the band.
The new edition includes more than 170 photos, with about 35 in color, most of those from the past 25 years.
Powell writes that “unlike most college bands, the Aggie Band performs a different drill at each performance. Although the same elements and formations ... are often seen from drill to drill, they are combined in a different order each week and the complexity increases.”
She also notes that being a member of the band is a life-altering experience.
“Being in the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band,” Powell writes, “is a special privilege that no band member ever forgets. Your life is never the same after you have been a member of the finest military marching band in the nation. The friends you make in the Aggie Band are your friends forever.”
Another book due later this fall from Texas A&M Press is The Book of Aggie Lists ($35 hardcover), focusing on A&M’s military heritage and its Corps of Cadets. Among the lists are Aggies who served in wars, were decorated or died in the line of duty. Also, a list of movies with some connection to A&M. The book is scheduled for a December release.
Glenn Dromgoole writes about Texas books and authors. Contact him at email@example.com.