A history of the Sea Aggie Band: Foundation, renewal and notable performances

By Cmdr. Jim Sterling, '71 Texas Maritime Academy Alumni

I was a Prep Cadet on the 1967 cruise to Rio and other points of interest in South America and decided to enroll at Texas Maritime Academy (TMA). My first two years were spent on the main campus of TAMU, and I was a member of the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band. When I transferred to TMA my junior year, I decided to start a ships band. We played on two summer cruises of the Mediterranean and northern Europe, including a performance on 4 July 1970 for the King of Denmark! I graduated 1971 and was commissioned as an officer in the United States Naval Reserve, and received my Third Mate’s License. I spent several years at sea, and retired from the Naval service in 1994 in the rank of Commander, having had five commands on Naval Reserve Units during the Cold War, and being recalled to active duty for Desert Storm.

 Fast forward to 2010: I spoke to an old shipmate, Rear Admiral Bill “Bear” Pickavance ’68, about re-booting our band at TMA. (“Bear” was Regimental Commander at TMA when I was a fish, and later was the Superintendent.) He told me that there were no funds for such a project, and I told him “no problem.” I contacted a lifelong friend, Lieutenant Colonel Jay O. Brewer ’81, Director of the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band, with a request for some instruments (Aggies don’t call these things “horns.”) and he arranged a transfer of over 40 instruments to TAMUG. The only problem: They were “FOB” (Free on Board), and I had to pick them up and move them to Galveston. This took me about six trips, 325 miles each. I also brought down about 40 songs from my personal “Invincible Eagle Band” library, and we were all set up! We signed up over a dozen players, and the Sea Aggie Band was created!

 Some of the events which our Sea Aggie Band has performed include: Several Division Parades and “Final Review” of the Texas Maritime Academy Midshipmen, Yell Practice at downtown Galveston, featured band for a National Congress of the Naval Order of the United States at the Hotel Galvez (I am a Plank Owner/Founding member and past State Commander), Dickens on the Strand, Aggie Muster, Spring Showcase at TAMUG, several mini concerts on the mess decks/cafeteria at TAMUG, the pier for the departure of a cruise ship from Port of Houston, and recently Parents Weekend at Saengerfest Park in Galveston. There are all kinds of events where our Sea Aggie Band can perform.

 What the Sea Aggie Band needs: We are working on a permanent home to have our rehearsals, with a locker (closet) to secure our instruments, music, and equipment. We are also very interested in growing to a larger band. We need bandsmen! If you have had past experience playing in a band, please check out the Sea Aggie Band! We have plenty of instruments, or you may bring your own. For more information contact Sea Aggie Band President Patt Fennesy (pattifennesy@gmail.com) or Vice President Leland Murphy (lelandmurphy@tamu.edu). The Sea Aggie Band rehearses every Tuesday and Thursday at 5:30 P.M. in the Powell Marine Engineering Complex (PMEC). We need you!