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Vet tribute features familiar face

Nov 8, 2012


By Karl Klooster
Of the News-Register


For the past 14 years, the Second Winds Community Band has brought much-enjoyed entertainment to audiences around the Yamhill Valley — and beyond.

In the process, it has earned a reputation for top-flight talent coupled with a relaxed, fun-filled demeanor. That adds another dimension of appreciation to its professionally executed performances.

At 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov.11, the nearly 60-strong band will take to the stage in a Veterans Day performance at the McMinnville Community Center.

The concert has been appropriately titled, “Honoring All Who Serve.” As with all Second Winds concerts, admission is free.

Highlighting this concert will be well-known KOIN-TV newsman Mike Donahue, who retired this May after more than 40 years with the CBS affiliate in Portland. Over the decades, Donahue’s prominent anchor role made him KOIN’s most recognizable on-air personality and thus the station’s leading public ambassador.

For the first time since its founding in 1998, Second Winds has a new musical director. Patrick Lay, the man behind the beginnings of the band, relinquished his role just a few months ago.

As director of the McMinnville High School band, Lay said he kept on getting as much comment from parents about their own past musical experiences as about the progress of their children.

Finally, he decided to do something about it.

He would create a community band open to all ages. Ability alone would determine whether or not they could qualify for a spot in the ensemble.

The rest, as they say, is history. Second Winds has since succeeded in becoming a much appreciated part of McMinnville’s creative arts infrastructure, some of whose members have been on board since the beginning

Succeeding Lay is Mark Williams, who also boasts a long career as a music educator and a musician.

Williams holds a master’s degree in music education from George Fox University and master teacher certificates in instrumental and vocal conducting. His teaching career spans elementary, middle school, high school and college positions focusing on the development, training and conducting of bands and choirs.

Additionally, over the past several years Williams has been responsible for elaborately choreographed productions as artistic director with the Dayton Community Chorus.

He is the creator, writer, producer and director of the group’s annual 1940s Radio revival and USO-style shows, as well as the Medieval/Renaissance-themed Dayton Revels during the Christmas season

As a result, salutes to our veterans are an integral part of Williams’s musical productions. And this year’s Veterans Day Concert will include elements he incorporated into earlier presentations.

He said the program will consist of 10 musical performances. Prominent among them is the Colonel Bogey March, the motion picture theme song of “Bridge on the River Kwai.”

Attendees will also hear the “Aces High March,” written for the 1969 film “Battle of Britain,” along with the “U.S. Army Field Artillery March” and, of course, the National Anthem.

Donahue’s readings of two powerfully moving stories promise to provide memorable interludes designed to give the audience pause for reflection.

Both are from the 19th century and both strike home with their poignant messages about struggles to deal with the bitter realities of war and personal misfortune.

The first is a letter from Maj. Sullivan Ballou of the Union Army to his wife Sarah just prior to the First Battle of Bull Run (First Manassas) in 1861, at the outset of the Civil War.

The second is the story behind the hymn, “It is Well with My Soul,” written by lawyer Horatio Spafford after the great Chicago fire of 1871 ruined him financially and he subsequently lost his four daughters in a shipwreck.

Donahue said his own military service, and his life experiences in general, have given him greater appreciation for the consequences of war.

A native of Albany and graduate of the University of Oregon, Donahue was stationed at the Pentagon for most of his four years in the U.S. Army. In his position with the Army Photographic Agency, he served directly under Gen. William Westmoreland, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1968 to 1972.

Rising to the rank of captain, he was able to observe firsthand the pressures of the Vietnam War.

“Our agency provided Westmoreland and his staff with all kinds of audio visual services involving photography and film,” he said. “For example, we were the first to receive photos of the My Lai Massacre.”

He was especially proud that he was involved during the time when the administration and senior command was able to sell old-timers on the transition to the modern all-volunteer military.

“It was tough to convince some of these guys to willingly go along, but we used Pete Dawkins as a key spokesman and it helped a lot,” he said. After all, Dawkins won a Heisman Trophy at West Point before launching a military career in which he rose to the rank of brigadier general.

Donahue said he and his fellow staffers wore civilian clothes most of the time when on the job at the Pentagon. “We were all junior officers, and wearing our uniforms while giving orders to Gen. Westmoreland and other senior commanders during photo sessions just wouldn’t have worked,” he said.

After completing his service obligation in 1972, Donahue returned to Portland. And he was able to pick up where he had left off with KOIN.

“As I became known and went out in the community on behalf of the station, I made it a point to devote as much time as possible to helping charitable organizations and other nonprofits,” he said.

“When Mark contacted me about appearing at the Second Winds Concert on behalf of veterans, I was honored to be asked. It’s my pleasure to come to McMinnville and be a part of this production.”

And that’s what I found out while OUT and ABOUT — humming the bars to a marching song. I don’t recall the title, but I’ll bet it was composed by John Philip Sousa.

Karl Klooster can be reached by e-mail at kklooster@newsregister.com.

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