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133rd Army Band of the Washington Army National Guard

First American military band to perform at the Okanagan Military Tattoo

Members of the 133rd Washington Army National Guard Band at the 2018 Okanagan Military Tattoo, in Vernon, British Columbia. Photo credit: Marguerite Cleveland

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Members of the 133rd Army Band of the Washington Army National Guard spent six days in Vernon, British Columbia, rehearsing and performing in the 5th annual Okanagan Military Tattoo, which took place at the Kal Tire Place arena July 28-29. The 133rd's G7 Dixieland Band rocked it out of the park when they performed at the Downtown Vernon Concert in Civic Plaza July 26.

The Okanagan Military Tattoo featured over 500 performers from all over North America in a two-hour event with pipers, drummers, musicians, military bands and marching troops, as well as multicultural dancers and singers of all ages. "Our Tattoo provides military bands with the opportunity to perform for a broader audience, and it serves to strengthen the bonds between reserve units based in Washington state and in British Columbia," said Norm Crerar, producer/director, Okanagan Military Tattoo.

Sergeant First Class Ayn Balback, Drum Major for the 133rd, opened the Tattoo by providing the ceremonial knock on the castle door. In the dim light, the sound reverberated throughout the arena and then the doors creaked open to reveal the 133rd. Balback then led the march onto the floor of the arena. The Canadian 15th Field Artillery Regiment Band, Royal Canadian Artillery, marched out onto the floor. The two bands merged together and then performed the Canadian and United States National Anthems.

Sergeant Megan Nelson was excited to participate in the Okanagan Military Tattoo. "I've served three years in the 133rd and 16 years in the Army and done all types of performances, but this is my first Military Tattoo. It's also my first visit to Canada. It's been a good time working with the Canadians. It was very helpful that the leadership of our two bands communicated ahead of time and we had all the music prior to the event (when the two bands came together to practice their performance). It was seamless."

Later in the event, the two military bands came together in a symbolic performance of the "49th Parallel." The 133rd marched in from one end of the arena symbolizing coming from the south and the 15th marched in from the other representing coming from the north. The two met in the middle representing the 49th Parallel, which is the border between the U.S. and Canada.

"The event is about the tradition and esprit de corps, and to promote goodwill towards the military and veterans," said Warrant Officer Dwayne Nelson, Senior Bass Drummer, Band of the 15th Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery.

During the Tattoo, members of the 133rd were declared Honorary Citizens of Canada until the end of the Tattoo, Sunday, July 29. The town of Vernon rolled out the red carpet for the visitors who were able to enjoy meeting the locals and exploring the area on their limited free time between rehearsals and performances. Vernon, B.C., is about a seven-hour drive from Joint Base Lewis-McChord. For more information about the Okanagan Military Tattoo, visit: If you plan to visit Vernon, check out the official tourism site at

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