The History of the Air Force Musicians Association

Today’s Air Force Musicians Association evolved out of the Retired Air Force Band Leaders Society which was loosely organized in 1980. The Society was created by Herman Vincent, a retired Air Force band conductor, at the suggestion of George Howard, the Commander and Conductor of The United States Air Force Band from 1944 through 1963 who had served concurrently as Chief of Bands and Music for the Air Force. 

Initially, the purpose of the Society was for Air Force Bandleaders to stay in touch with each other in retirement. Later, it was decided to include retired Band Superintendents (E-8s and E-9s) in the Society. Accordingly, the name was changed to the Retired Air Force Bandleaders and Superintendents Society and the membership began to grow.

The first Retired Air Force Musicians Reunion was held in San Antonio, Texas in 1987. The reunion was open to all ranks and was not a part of the Society. However, Society members made up a significant percentage of those attending. Subsequent reunions were held in 1990 (Colorado Springs, CO), 1992 (Orlando, FL), 1994 (Williamsburg, VA), 1996 (New Orleans, LA) and 1998 (Colorado Springs) under the same general arrangements.

In the year 2000 the reunion was held in Myrtle Beach, SC where a movement was started to merge the Society and the Air Force Musicians Reunion into the United States Air Force Musicians Alumni Association, with membership in the Association to be open to any and all who had ever served in Air Force Music regardless of the amount of time served or the rank attained.

With the creation of the Association, membership quickly grew to over 250. Articles of Incorporation were filed with the Secretary of State of the State of Colorado, and By-laws were written and approved by the Executive Committee.

Retired AF Bandleader Lou Kriebel, who had been very active in the original Society, served as President of the new Association from its beginnings, and he was re-elected along with the first full slate of officers at the Association’s “first” reunion which was held in Sacramento, CA in 2002.

Following a vote of the membership attending the 2004 reunion in the St. Louis, MO area, the name was changed to the Air Force Musicians Association. This new identity will lead the Association into a new and bright future as membership is now fully open to any and all who are either now a part of Air Force Music (active duty) or who have ever been associated with Air Force Music – active duty, retired, Air Force Reserves, Air National Guard, Army Air Forces (serving between 1941 and 1947), etc.

In other words, those who are now serving, have served or will serve in Air Force bands, orchestras, choruses, combos, rock groups, drum & bugle corps, pipe bands, or who are serving or have served as arrangers, audio technicians, vocalists or in band administration – all are welcome to join their Air Force Musicians Association, a multi faceted organization whose membership now stands at over 675 (as of March, 2005).

In addition to sponsoring biennial reunions, the Association publishes a professionally produced quarterly newsletter, CODA – written by musicians for musicians, prints and distributes annually a comprehensive member directory, sanctions an E-mail list which is updated with new addresses and information monthly, and presents and updates this web site.

AFMA's Historical Timeline

  • 1980 -The Retired Air Force Bandleaders Society was organized.
  • 1982 - Membership was expanded and a new name adopted: The Retired AF Band Leaders & Superintendents Society.
  • 1994 - Reorganized as The Retired Air Force Musicians Association.
  • 2001 - Reorganized as The United States Air Force Musicians Alumni Association.
  • 2004 - Our name was changed to Air Force Musicians Association (AFMA).