IAF musician to play in career’s 25th parade
The upcoming Republic Day parade will be the biggest high-point of Warrant Officer Ashok Kumar’s military career --- the Indian Air Force (IAF) musician will march down Rajpath on January 26 for the 25th straight time.
Military officials say taking part in the parade for so many years is a significant achievement.
“Nothing can beat the feeling of marching down Rajpath on Republic Day. I may be doing it for the 25th time but I am as excited as I was when I debuted at the parade in 1995,” Kumar told Hindustan Times.
In a statement, the IAF described him as “an accomplished drum major.”
The 47-year-old musician will lead a 75-man air force naval band as its drum major in front of more than 150,000 attendees, with millions watching the spectacular parade on their televisions at home.
Kumar, who comes from Haryana’s Karnal district, will be leading the IAF band at the parade for the 12th time (his other appearances were as band member).
Kumar and his crew began practising for the parade last week, and have been spending up to eight hours daily to synchronize their moves. A few of his band members have taken part in the parade multiple times.
“Military musicians have to be highly disciplined and motivated. They also need to have good stamina to march and play music at the same time,” said Kumar, who enjoys playing the trumpet. He has been the drum major of the IAF band at prestigious events across the world, including performances in Germany, Finland, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
The milestone should be seen in the context that repeat appearances in the parade are generally easier for members of military bands, which are a constant feature at the parade. For instance, Master Chief Petty Officer (musician) Vincent Johnson, the drum major of the naval band participating in the annual parade.
As reported by Hindustan Times on January 9, Johnson will take part in the parade for the 16th time this year and it will be his second appearance as the drum major.
The army will have four marching bands at the parade, led by inspector of army bands Major Vimal Joshi. He is leading the bands for the second time and several of his band members are taking part in the parade for the second or third time, said an officer. He added, “The army being a bigger service keeps rotating musicians taking part in the parade. That’s why our personnel haven’t participated in the parade as many times as IAF or navy musicians,” he added.