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2017 Archives

Army veteran finds a new band of brothers (and sisters) in the SMU pep band

Excerpt

The following of from the Nov. 24, 2017, edition of The Dallas Morning News

November 29, 2017

By Marc Ramirez
Breaking News Reporter

Having joined midyear, Juan Rios is still enjoying the traditions that go along with being a first-year member of the Southern Methodist University band — including a cap that bears his name and SMU's "Diamond M" logo.

In addition to three-times-a-week practice, he treasures the late-night talks, campus walks and camaraderie with his band brothers and sisters. It's those moments that take Rios back to Tallil, the base south of Baghdad where he and his fellow Army mates were stationed in 2011.

Being in the SMU band, he said, "reminds me of the brotherhood we had in the military." Recalling the Army's drills and ceremonies, "it's like we had our instruments there, too — but they were guns."

At 28, Rios is the oldest member of a decorated ensemble that this year marks its centennial and will play at the football team's final home game against Tulane on Nov. 25. And the fellowship the tuba player has found is a trademark of the tight-knit squad, which is half the size, or less, of many of its peers.

"I've talked to people in other bands with 200 or 300 members, and they barely know people in their own section," he said.

Read the full story.