WARNER ROBINS, Ga. (AP) -- Thanks to budget cuts at the Pentagon, the Air Force concert band based in middle Georgia will soon be playing its final encore.
The 45 musicians assigned to the Band of the U.S. Air Force Reserve showed "a little bit of shock and awe" last Tuesday when they learned the unit was being disbanded, said Master Sgt. Bill Granger, the band's superintendent.
The band is assigned to Robins Air Force Base south of Macon, an area where cutbacks so far have affected mainly civilian military employees. Still, Granger said the news wasn't a total surprise.
"We knew we were going to play in it somehow," Granger said. "You can't ask folks to stand down fighter wings and not stand down a band. It's just sad, and it's unfortunate it happened here."
The Telegraph of Macon reports the Georgia band is one of three the Air Force plans to cut nationwide in an effort to reduce its payroll by 105 band positions. Currently the Air Force has 13 bands across the U.S., with each responsible for playing full concerts and special ceremonies and events as smaller ensembles.
Now Georgia's Air Force band is scheduled to play its last full performance during the annual Fourth of July concert in Warner Robins. The band organizes the event each year, and the 2011 show drew thousands of people by featuring country music star Wynonna Judd.
Some of the band's musicians will start transferring to other bands over the summer, which typically happens every year. Only this time no replacements will fill their slots in Georgia. The musicians who remain will keep playing in smaller ensembles through June 2013, when the band will officially be deactivated.
Granger said none of the Georgia musicians are being forced out of the military by the band cuts. Instead, they're being offered jobs with Air Force bands at other bases.
Airman 1st Class Adam Tianello, who plays the bagpipes, said he's enjoyed being station in Warner Robins but he's not too upset about moving.
"It gives us the opportunity to go somewhere new and expand our horizons," said Tianello, a New York native.
Despite being attached to Robins, the band has spent the last eight years based out of a former department store at the local mall. A new headquarters for the band had been under construction at the base, but now it will be designated for some other use, said Jim Miller, a spokesman for the Air Force Reserve Command.
The band has gone through several name changes over the decades, but it has been based at Robins in middle Georgia since 1961.