At 65 years of continuous service at its home of Fort Leonard Wood, the 399th Army Band has been on post longer than any other unit. The band was first activated over 75 years ago on 1 June 1944 as the 399 Army Service Forces Band in Naples, Italy. This new unit was made primarily of personnel from the recently-deactivated 6498th Army Band, successor of the 9th Cavalry Band. Originally assigned 27 enlisted Soldiers and no officers, this band performed at concerts, parades, dances and ceremonies throughout Italy. The unit earned battle credit for participation in the ROME-ARNO Campaign in 1944.
After a short time in Italy, the 399 ASF Band moved to France in November 1944. A second battle participation credit was awarded for the Central Europe Campaign, 25 June 1945. The band migrated again to Bremen, Germany. There the band participated in large concerts joining with multiple German civilian ensembles. Bob Hope’s USO Show was one of the band’s major venues during its time in Germany. The 399 ASF Band also performed for the Federal British Corps. Dances, parades, and military concerts kept the band busy while supporting both American and Allied troops. The “Rough Riders,” their popular dance orchestra, performed almost nightly. A third battle participation credit was awarded to the unit on 12 December 1945 for the Rhineland Campaign. On 5 September 1946, the band officially accepted its current name, the 399th Army Band. The 399th Army Band ended its tour of Europe when it was inactivated on 20 January 1947.
The band was reactivated for a brief time in the Organized Reserves from 13 November 1947 to 5 May 1949. Until 7 March 1955, the unit remained inactive. It was reactivated in the Regular Army at the US Army Training Center Engineers and Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, where the unit resides today. The new 399th Army Band was made up of members of the 326th Army Band, which was deactivated on the same day. Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training graduations were weekly commitments from the unit’s first week at Fort Leonard Wood. The 6th Armored Division Band was also stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, and when deactivated, replaced with the 423rd Army Band. The 423rd and 399th shared both rehearsal space and performance responsibilities, often combining for major events. The bands regularly performed for graduations, Change of Command ceremonies, retirement ceremonies, holiday celebrations, parades and sporting events on post, as well as community events, concerts, and occasional charitable benefits in the surrounding communities. The 423rd Army Band was disbanded in 1969, leaving the 399th the only band on Fort Leonard Wood.
To this day, the 399th Army Band continues to serve Fort Leonard Wood and the surrounding area. We are proud of the unit’s rich history and to be the premiere musical organization of Fort Leonard Wood. Our vision remains: Building strong Warriors, Leaders, Families and Forces!