Reserve Musician receives COL Hamilton Award

By SGT Benjamin Garnett
100th Army Band

News story photo
Photo credit: SGT Mark Kersting
CW5 Larry Barton, commander of the 100th Army Band, looks on proudly as SSG Billy Arnold addresses the 100th Army Band following the presentation of his awards.
The 100th Army Reserve Band from Fort Knox, KY is a military unit which is rapidly becoming known throughout the country for the superior military and musical skills possessed by its Soldiers. For the second time in as many years, a Soldier from the 100th has been recognized by the United States Army for displaying outstanding ability in these areas.

Staff Sergeant Billy Arnold, a clarinet player for the 100th, is a 2011 recipient of the Colonel Finley R. Hamilton Outstanding Musician Award, setting him high and apart from his peers. He was one of only thirty-nine enlisted U.S. musicians worldwide to receive the honor in that year. The award was created in 2010 to acknowledge enlisted musicians from military bands from all United States branches of service who are extraordinary musicians, display exceptional leadership qualities, and show great potential for future outstanding service.

SSG Arnold is the Non-Commissioned Officer In Charge (NCOIC) of the units Operations section. His duties include coordinating all musical performances and unit events, and arranging transportation and lodging for unit missions. These missions, in addition to regularly scheduled drill weekends, include performance requests which are sometimes announced mere days in advance. He is also the unit's drum major.

“It's an honor to receive this award, but honestly I'm just doing my job,” said SSG Arnold. Arnold is the second Soldier in as many years from the 100th Army Band to receive this prestigious award. Warrant Officer Chad Alward (then Staff Sergeant), the Executive Officer of the 100th, was selected as a recipient in 2010. “It's a big feather in the cap of the 100th that we've had two Soldiers in a row receive this award.” said unit First Sergeant Matt LaBarbara. “We're extremely proud of them and the quality of musicianship that they possess. We're confident that this is a pattern that will continue in the coming years.”

This award was created in honor of COL Finley R. Hamilton (a Kentucky native), who served for 35 years in the Army Band program and retired from service as the commander and conductor of the United States Army Field Band. The award “captures COL Hamilton's dedication to the musicians of the armed forces and his tireless championing of outstanding musician leaders in service bands from all branches.”

SSG Arnold was recently awarded the Army Commendation Medal for exemplary service as a musician, and for his contributions as drum major and Operations NCOIC for the 100th Army Band. He resides in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. When asked about his experience thus far as a Soldier in a United States Army Reserve Band, Arnold replied “This isn't just a second career, it's a second family.”

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