US 7th Fleet Band rocks with the ROK during Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival

by Mass Communication Specialist Wendy Wyman, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Korea Public Affairs
U.S. Navy

JINHAE, Republic of Korea (NNS) -- Musicians from U.S. 7th Fleet Band, alongside Korean Navy band members from Jinhae Naval Base, performed a joint concert during the 53rd annual Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival, April 2.

The free outdoor concert was attended by more than 10,000 residents and tourists from across the Korean peninsula, as well as U.S. Sailors from
Commander, Fleet Activities Chinhae (CFAC).

"It was an outstanding concert that showcased how well the Republic of Korea and U.S. Navies can perform as one unit," said Lt. Cmdr. Dong Min Cho, bandmaster of Republic of Korea (ROK) Navy Headquarters. "Performances like these, not only build relationships between our Sailors, but also within our naval community and with the residents of Jinhae."

The Jinhae Gunhangje, which translates as "Naval Port Festival", was originally founded in 1963 to commemorate the 16th century Korean naval hero
Admiral Yi Sun-shin. Over the last 53 years, it has evolved into a cultural celebration centered around the more than 360,000 cherry trees that bloom each
year on the ROK naval base and in the city of Jinhae.

"Though our uniforms may be different, we share a love of music and a dedication to strengthening the ties between our two Navies," said Lt. Brian
Chaplow, fleet bandmaster of U.S. 7th Fleet Band. "We call ourselves 'Pacific Ambassadors' because each U.S. Sailor was picked based on their skills and capability to integrate into one cohesive ensemble with the ROK
Navy band members."

The joint naval band performed a variety of music from classical to contemporary, showcasing American and Korean favorites like "Come fly with me" and "Battle of Myeongnyang". Both bandmasters had the opportunity to conduct arrangements from the other's homeland, which helped build camaraderie during the joint practices in preparation for the concert.

"After getting to know each other through some friendly competitive warmups," said Musician 1st Class Ramon Hernandez, who plays the french horn with U.S. Navy 7th Fleet Band. "We agreed that both U.S. and ROK
Sailors were well matched to hit the high notes in any situation, especially when working together."

This year, the festival featured various artistic and cultural events, including the annual parade, traditional musical performances, and international food, as well as a military display from the ROK Navy honor guard. Jinhae's festival is considered the country's largest cherry blossom festival, drawing more than one million tourists from across the Korean peninsula from April 1 - 10.

Comprised of professional Navy musicians, the U.S. Navy 7th Fleet Band was created in 1943 with the establishment of the U.S. Navy 7th Fleet and has performed for thousands of audiences throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. The band is homeported in Yokosuka, Japan, and embarks aboard USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), flagship for the U.S. 7th Fleet, during patrols and deployments. The 7th Fleet band also conducts theater security cooperation engagements independently from the U.S. 7th Fleet staff in Korea and in other
locations across the region.

Commander, Fleet Activities Chinhae is the only U.S. Navy base on the Korean peninsula and strengthens the maritime partnership and interoperability with the Republic of Korea while enhancing the security and
cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region.

For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Korea, visit

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