Staff Sgt. Cullan Hooley plays bagpipes at the Capitol
By Staff Sgt. Cullan Hooley, 146AW
/ Published April 22, 2011
CHANNEL ISLANDS AIR NATIONAL GUARD STATION, Calif. -- Recently the Band of the Air Force Reserve Bagpipe Band was invited to perform on the steps of the capitol. Staff Sgt. Cullan Hooley, the 146th Airlift Wings's Terrorism Liaison Officer, 146th Security Forces Squadron, is a member of this unique group of talented musicians. Read on to hear the story as he tells it about this once-in-a -lifetime opportunity.
"We first flew to Warner Robbins Air Force Base for four days of uniform fitting, equipment/instrument checks and rehearsals...and more rehearsals. This was the first time we had all played together and we needed to meld into a cohesive unit to play together as one. We all then flew to Andrews Air Force Base. There, we rehearsed more, made our final preparations, and managed for a few hours to go to the "Mall" and do a little sight-seeing.
On the day of the performances we got on the bus and headed to the Capitol. Speaker of the House (known as SOTH) John Boehner was our "host" for the event. Every St Patrick's Day, the SOTH hosts a luncheon for the President of the U.S. and the Prime Minister of Ireland (called the Taoiseach), who is currently the newly elected Enda Kenny.
We performed twice at the Capitol, once as they were arriving and going up the steps to the Capitol, and again after the luncheon as they were leaving and departing.
We then got back on the bus and headed to the White House.
That evening, the President was hosting a reception for the Taoiseach and many other guests. We performed outside the East Wing entrance for approximately an hour as all of the guests were arriving. Then, we were taken to the room inside the White House where the W.H. Photographer was setup. We were arranged for a group photo to be taken with the President and the First Lady. They entered the room and personally greeted each one of us and shook our hands. Then they stood with us for the photo. After the group photo was taken, we returned to our "holding room" in the East Wing until it was time to perform again. This time we went outside and formed up outside of the main entrance (front door) of the White House. We marched into the Grand Foyer just inside the front door and played a few songs for the guests at the reception. After our set was done, we marched out and our performances for the day were complete.
The following day we all flew back to from whence we came. All in all, it was a very busy and tiring trip, yet it was extremely rewarding and definitely something I will remember and cherish for the rest of my life. I am very proud not only to have performed as part of a rare and elite unit for such prestigious dignitaries, but also to have been able to represent the U.S. Air Force in such a high profile, dignified and professional way.
The "Band of the Air Force Reserve Bagpipe Band" is based out of Warner Robbins AFB, GA. Two pipers, the three drummers and the Drum Major are all Active Duty (AGR) there. The other eight pipers (such as myself) are spread out throughout the Air Force and
the country. When there is a scheduled performance, we are flown in from our respective bases for the event.
Here is a link to the band's information page:
Here is a link to a video produced by Rep. King (NY) which I found on
YouTube, which shows part of our performance at the Capitol:
At the beginning, while Rep King is speaking you can hear us tuning in the
background. As we are standing on the steps, I am fourth up from the
bottom. Songs played in that set are "Let Erin Remember", "The High Road to
Gairloch" and "The Minstrel Boy" (which is what I played on Sunday).