News: Women instrumental, inspirational to 'Pershing’s Own' musician
By Sgt. 1st Class Julie A. Boehler
JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. - Sgt. 1st Class Julie A. Boehler, principal timpanist of the United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own,” shares memories of her career since joining “Pershing’s Own” and becoming the first woman soldier timpanist with the band in 2003.
Boehler’s words below are in celebration of Women’s History Month and are shared in the hopes of inspiring young women musicians who may not be aware of the many opportunities available to them in the premier Army band of our nation.
I have had the distinct honor of serving with many strong women since joining The United States Army Band, “Pershing’s Own.”
When I won the audition and was assigned to The U.S. Army Ceremonial Band in September of 1997, there were only three other women in that element. Fortunately for me, ceremonial band flute/piccolo player, since 1990, Master Sgt. Maria Luisa de la Cerda Rohde took me under her wing and mentored me for many years. I watched in admiration as she became the first woman ever to lead Full Honors in Arlington National Cemetery in the Drum Major cadre.
Rohde will make history in May 2014 when she becomes the first woman to retire as a member of the ceremonial band. Additionally, she holds the distinction of being the first Latina to have served in the unit.
In 1999, I got my first chance to mentor incoming women. I vividly remember welcoming the first female trombonist, Sgt. 1st Class Kirsten Lies-Warfield, to the band since it coincided with our annual Eastern Trombone Workshop.
Lies-Warfield was only the sixth female herald trumpeter since their founding in 1959. Although she performed in numerous nationally-televised events and traveled with the Herald Trumpets, she cites playing with The U.S. Army Blues at the International Women’s Brass Conference as the most memorable moment of her career. She offers this advice to young girls: “Girls can be creative and figure out what they want to do; be strong and don’t quit just because someone says or suggests you can’t or perhaps shouldn’t do something.”
Staff Sgt. Michelle Acton became the first female saxophonist in the unit when she joined the ceremonial band in 2004. When asked what her most memorable performance has been, she didn’t hesitate. Without a doubt, it was President Obama’s first Inaugural parade. “It was inspiring! It was so exciting to see such a sense of hope. I could feel the energy marching down the street. It clearly marked a new era.”
She also fondly remembers traveling to Oslo, Norway, to participate in an International Military Tattoo. “Everyone was so friendly!” She enjoyed sharing her experiences as a military musician with so many others who have a “shared sense of duty.”
Collectively, we were fortunate enough to have had teachers push us and tell us we could accomplish anything. Although the path was not always a smooth one, a new era has begun that will undoubtedly increase the awareness of contributions women have given to our unit and to our nation.