Jan. 2, 2017 – This morning the Rose Parade steps off at 10 a.m. in Pasadena, California. Take special note of the man who will lead the 1st Marine Division Band. His name is Ben Becker and he is from Slinger.
According to the 1st Marine Division webpage, “Benjamin Becker enlisted in the Marine Corps in September of 1997 after graduating from Slinger High School in Slinger, Wisconsin. Upon completion of boot camp and combat training in February 1998, he was transferred to the School of Music Basic Course. After graduating from the School of Music in July 1998, he reported to the 2nd Marine Division Band in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina as a tuba instrumentalist. While stationed there he was promoted to the rank of Corporal in January 1999, and then to Sergeant in January of 2000.
In January 2001 he returned to the School of Music for the Unit Leader Course. Upon completion of the course in June 2001, he reported to Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego as a tuba instrumentalist. While stationed here, he was promoted to Staff Sergeant in December of 2003. In March of 2004 he made his way to Parris Island, South Carolina, where he served as a tuba instrumentalist and Drum Major. In July of 2006 he was transferred to the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing Band where he served as Drum Major. In January 2008, he deployed to Al Asad Air Base, Iraq with MWSG-37.
In June 2009 he transferred to the Commander, Naval Forces Europe Band where he served as Operations Chief, Drum Major, and tuba instrumentalist. In July 2009 he was promoted to Gunnery Sergeant. Finally, in June of 2012, he reported to his current duty station: The 1st Marine Division Band, Camp Pendleton, California.
There will be 21 bands in today’s parade, including the Pulaski High School Red Raider Marching Band from Pulaski, Wisconsin.
Becker will be part of the United States Marine Corps West Coast Composite Band – MCAS Miramar, MCRD San Diego and Camp Pendleton, CA
“He was a student of mine about 20 years ago,” said retired Slinger High School band director Dave Hanke. “He is the drum major of this great band. He has traveled the world and today he will be marching in his last Rose Bowl Parade as the leader of this great band.”
Becker returned to the Slinger area in 2000 when he marched in the Allenton Parade as part of the 2nd Division Marine Corps. Band.
“Be proud Slinger,” said Hanke. “Ben represents all the good that we have in our community. It is so cool to see one of our own leading off this prestigious parades.”
Added note – courtesy Dave, thank you for the advertisement and all that you’ve done for so many who have gone through Slinger – band and non-band students alike. You’ve had a profound impact on our community and the school district of Slinger (and many others). You’ve shaped thousands of lives throughout the years! Many fond memories, my friend and, as you’ve said many times, Eine kleine Chiquita banana. Thank you!
Photo courtesy Ben Becker