Sgt. Maj. William Gabbard is one of the most well-known faces of the U.S. Army Field Band, thanks to his 30 years of service. He has performed with each of the Field Band’s four components. Before his retirement, he was the longest-standing member of the Field Band. He was a tenor in the Soldiers’ Chorus, a drum major in marching events and an announcer at concerts. The Soldiers’ Chorus is the vocal complement to the instrumental Field Band.
Gabbard is the son of the late Agness Pato Yandall Gabbard and Mr. Gabbard of Leloaloa, Tutuila Island, American Samoa. He graduated from Samoana High School in 1977, and he began his service with the Field Band in September 1987.
Gabbard was a third-generation non-commissioned officer. His paternal grandfather served in the Navy, his father served with the Navy and the Air Force, his brother served in the Army and his two sons served in the Navy as well as the Army.
The Field Band and Soldiers’ Chorus perform nationwide in venues large and small in order to connect communities to the armed forces that protect them, and to inspire patriotism. Gabbard performed in large events, such as presidential inaugural parades, including those of Presidents Bush and Obama. Gabbard explained that small-town venues were among his favorites, “Because generally, in a smaller community, the publicity is much more widespread and many more people in town know about it, and it’s a much bigger event.”
Gabbard retired from service in May 2018. He participated in his last tour with the Field Band in 2017, conducting the chorus in “This Is My Country,” composed by Don Raye and Al Jacobs. In July 2019, Gabbard began directing the adult choir at Second Ponce De Leon Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, and he continues to serve as its minister of music today.
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Veterans History Project
This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.
Writer: Kim McAdams
Editors: Alexander Reza, Nathaniel Scott
Researchers: David Charles Deprez, Timothy Georgetti
Graphics: Brittany Gorski