AFRH-W Resident Highlight – Benny Easter
By Benny Easter, AFRH-W Resident
We’ve had many compliments about the article “A Testimony to Excellence” that Benny Easter submitted last month to The Communicator talking about his and his wife’s experiences with retirement communities. So what is his story, I was asked? And here is his answer!
I was born in a small town in the northeast corner of the Texas panhandle. In high school, I played the French horn and developed a love for band music. After high school I joined the U.S. Army in 1957. My first duty assignment was as a French horn player in the Signal School Band at Ft. Gordon, Georgia. While there I met a beautiful telephone operator named Catherine Murphy. The night I met her I told my friends that I had met the girl I was going to marry. Fifteen months later we were married and so far it has lasted 58 years. Cathy presented me with three beautiful children who are the pride of my life.
In 1962 I attended the advanced course at the Naval School of Music at Anacostia in Washington, D.C. Upon graduation, I was appointed as a warrant officer, bandmaster and was assigned as Commander, 101st Airborne Division Band where I obtained my senior parachutist wings. My follow-on band assignments included Command of the 95th Division Band, the 98th Army Band, the 1st Armored Division Band, the 14th Army Band, and the 2nd Infantry Division Band. In 1981 I was selected to be the Director of Training and Doctrine at the school of music, where I was responsible for the development of all aspects of training for Army bands and band personnel. Also, I was responsible, as the band field proponent officer, for the development of the Air/Land Battle 2000 concept. Plus, I served as chief conducting evaluator for bandmaster candidates. I was selected to co-author the leadership and ethics portion of the first Warrant Officer Entry Course, which was being developed as the first course in the new Warrant Officer Training System. While at this school position, I did some research and found that I had served as bandmaster for more divisions that anyone in the history of the Army. In 1985 I went back to parachute duty as Commander of the 82nd Airborne Division Band. The month of my retirement I was selected to be a Master Warrant Officer, which became CW5 two years later. I had quit smoking, had foot surgery and was rapidly outgrowing the parachutes, so I declined the honor, since it meant no increase in pay or change of insignia. I retired as the senior bandmaster in the Army in 1988. I also made my last parachute jump at the age of 49.
Since retirement I taught school for fourteen years at all grade levels from Kindergarten through Junior College and conducted two fine community bands in Florida and Georgia. About my family, my daughter, Lynn, was first runner-up to Miss Teenage America in 1978, received her degree from Troy University in Alabama and was teaching elementary school at the age of nineteen. She later obtained her master's degree and is now retired and running the day care for her church in Ozark, Alabama. My second child, Chris, attended West Point and is presently CEO of Keen Transport in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Keen is the largest overthe-road hauler of over-sized equipment in the country. My youngest, Keith, obtained his undergraduate degree from Old Dominion University and his master's from James Madison University in Virginia He is presently teaching at Freedom High School in Woodbridge, Virginia. I have lived at the AFRH-W for six months now.