In 1992, current and former members of the Aggie Band mounted a bronze plaque on the west side of the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band drill field behind Dorm 11 in honor of COL Joe T. Haney ’48. The plaque commemorated the renaming of the drill field to the Colonel Joe T. Haney ‘48 Drill Field. Col. Haney ‘48 served as the Director of the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band from 1973 to 1989. Nearly thirty years later, contractors making improvements to Haney Drill Field discovered memorabilia from that day in 1992 in the pole supporting the plaque.
Under direction of Brigadier General Joe E. Ramirez Jr. ‘79, Commandant of Cadets, contractors began making improvements to Haney Drill Field last Spring. Improvements included a brick plaza with commemorative monument on the west side 50 yard line commemorating all members of the Aggie Band who have drilled on Haney Drill Field over the years, landscaping and benches around the plaza, and new decorative posts and chain surrounding the drill field. SSC Service Solutions oversaw the renovations, and began with the moving of the 1992 Haney plaque from the drill field to the new Plaza.
James Barnes, SSC Service Solutions’ Landscape Manager, removed the Haney plaque from the original metal post on the drill field to include it with the newmonument on the plaza near the 50-yard line on the west side of the drill field. When he began using a cutting torch to cut the post off, Barnes realized something other than metal was burning. After checking the post closer, Barnes found a plastic Ziploc bag inside the post, filled with memorabilia from the 1992 dedication ceremony.
“Considering the original plan was to remove it all in one piece, it is amazing that we opted for the alternative plan and ended up finding this pseudo-time capsule,” Barnes said.
Barnes returned the contents of the “time-capsule” to Mike Teal ‘96, Grounds Manager for SSC Grounds at Texas A&M. “I wanted to make sure that the time capsule was returned so that there was a record of the students who left it to commemorate their time in the Corps and the dedication of Haney Drill Field,” he said.
Initially, Barnes was concerned that the torch had slightly melted the Ziploc bag. However, Mike Teal assured him that the Corps representatives would be incredibly thankful that Barnes found and reported the items he had found from that original dedication ceremony in 1992.
“It was quite a surprise to learn about the contents of that original plaque from 1992,” said General Ramirez. “I appreciate the care and concern SSC took to preserve these items for us so that we could preserve and display them as a visual reminder of that special day in 1992 when the Haney Drill Field was first dedicated.”
The Ziploc bag included a dedication ceremony program, a newspaper article account of the event, and the name tags of five cadets who were in the Aggie Band during that time. The cadets whose name tags were found in the time capsule include Dr. Travis Burleson ‘92, Dr. James Crook, Jr. ‘92, Robert Givens ‘92, Mark Lane ‘92, and Joe Gamertsfelder ‘92.
The Aggie Band class of 1992 was the last class to have Col. Haney ‘48 as their Band Director. Travis Burleson ‘92, Executive Officer for A-Company in 1992, spearheaded the effort to name the Aggie Band Drill Field – the field that had been used by the Aggie Band since the 1950s – the Joe T. Haney Drill Field, to celebrate and recognize Col. Haney’s contributions to the Aggie Band and Texas A&M. What was initially intended to be a friendly, low-key gesture soon turned into a formal, campus-wide event celebrating the former student and faculty member who became a legend as the Director of the Aggie Band, and who was loved by many Aggies. The event included remarks from then Texas A&M President Dr. William H. Mobley, and a performance by the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band.
Following the dedication of the drill field, the five seniors decided to place items they had with them inside the pole. Mark Lane ‘92 was the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band Commander and Joe Gamertsfelder ‘92 was the Combined Band Drum Major in 1992.
“When you thought about the Band, you thought about Colonel Haney,” said Gamertsfelder ‘92. “We respected him and wanted to honor him in any way we could with what we had at the time.”
The former cadets never expected their items would be found nearly 30 years later. To them, the items they had placed in that pole were a small way of showing their appreciation to Colonel Haney before their time at Texas A&M and the Aggie Band ended.
“This finding shows the long lineage of Aggies respecting traditions and those who came before them,” said Gamertsfelder ‘92. “I hope this story inspires Aggies to continue respecting others because that’s what makes us different.”
No one expected to find any memorabilia like this as renovations to Haney Drill Field began last Spring. Finding those items was a pleasant surprise that served as a reminder of the contributions made by Colonel Joe T. Haney that helped shape the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band of today, and the respect for tradition that all Aggies hold for Texas A&M.
“And that’s just a little bit of Aggie history and good bull,” said Burleson ‘92.
By Kaitlin Villa ’22