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Owens concert a labor of love for WWII veteran

Battle of Okinawa survivor is oldest musician in ensemble


Jim Myers of Archbold, a Korean War veteran, is one of a number of trumpeters in the Owens College Community Band. The band's annual veterans concert will be at 2:30 p.m. Oct. 13 at the Center for Fine and Performing Arts Theater at Owens’ Toledo-area campus.

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Clayton Weis survived the brutal Battle of Okinawa in 1945.

Today, the 88-year-old World War II veteran is the oldest member of the Owens Community College Concert Band, which plans a concert next month in honor of America’s veterans.

For him, the concert is a labor of love.

The band is five years old, and “I’m one of the original members,” said Mr. Weis, who lives in Millbury. “I’ve been playing the trumpet since the fifth grade.”

The band holds four concerts each school year on campus and four at other venues, said Fred Dais, its director. “We always do one as close to Veterans Day, Nov. 11, as we can,” he explained.

This year’s veterans concert will be at 2:30 p.m. Oct. 13 in the Center for Fine and Performing Arts Theater at Owens’ Toledo-area campus, 30335 Oregon Rd., Perrysburg.

Two years ago, the veterans concert observed the 70th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack, and last year’s was in honor of the Tuskegee Airmen, the famed African-American pilots who fought in World War II and were the first black aviators in the U.S. armed forces.

“Both were sold out,” Mr. Dais said, hastening to add that the concerts are free. “There are 500 seats, and we had standing room only. Mayor Mike Bell was there last year. People really appreciate what our veterans have done, especially as time passes.”

Mr. Dais said the concert band will play a variety of music, including the well-known tribute to Frank Sinatra, “A Salute Ol’ Blue Eyes.” Other popular numbers will be a tribute to Carnegie Hall, called “Carnegie Anthem,” by William Owens, and a popular Henry Mancini medley called “March with Mancini.”

Veterans of the former Air National Guard Band of the Great Lakes, also known as the 555th Air Force Band, or the Triple Nickel, will join the Owens band for the last four numbers of the program, in a patriotic tribute to veterans. The Triple Nickel was deactivated last year.

Guest conductors will be Lt. Col. Robert Krichbaum, retired commander of the 555th band, and Warrant Officer 4 David Smith, a retired Army bandmaster and former Triple Nickel member.

The combined bands will play “Armed Forces — The Pride of America,” “Aces High,” “Masters of the March,” and “The Ultimate Patriotic Sing-Along.”

The theater, on the east side of Oregon Road, is handicapped-accessible and has free parking nearby.

Mr. Dais said he believes eight or nine of the band's 45 members are veterans. The youngest band member is 18.

The veterans, he said, “try to educate the others” about military service.

The band also does one benefit concert each year. Admission is not charged “but we pass around the plate,” Mr. Dais said.

A concert in March to benefit the Cherry Street Mission Ministries raised $2,000, he said.

A concert is scheduled for Dec. 8 to benefit St. Paul’s Community Center.

For more information, call the Fine and Performing Arts Department at the college at 567-661-7081.

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