CAMP SMITH TRAINING SITE, NY (08/01/2014)(readMedia)-- The man who led the 42nd Infantry Division Band during World War II, had successful post-war careers as a music teacher and piano repairman, and is now almost 100, will be honored by the current members of the band during a reunion here on Saturday evening, August 2.
Herman Giersch, a retired music teacher from Wawa, Pennsylvania, was Chief Warrant Officer Giersch and leader of the 42nd Infantry Division "Rainbow" Band from 1942 to 1946.
Under his direction the band followed the combat troops of the division from their landing in Marseille France, their defeat of the German Nordwind offensive, and the capture of the German cities of Wurzburg and Schweinfurt and the liberation of the Dachau Concentration Camp. The division ended World War II occupying Salzburg Austria.
After the war Giersch returned to his job as a music teacher at Lower Merion High School and retired after 46 years of teaching. In 1998 the high school auditorium was named in his honor.
Giersch and other former commanders of the 42nd Infantry Division Band will be recognized at the Saturday night event.
The band is headquartered at Camp Smith and represents the New York Army National Guard's 42nd Infantry Division around the state. The band deployed to Tikrit, Iraq in 2005.
Band members are spending this weekend preparing for their yearly Annual Training, during which they perform at music venues across New York.
This year the band will be appearing at Paterson Recreation Center on Wednesday, August 6 at 7 p.m. and at the Montrose Veterans Affairs Hospital at 2 p.m. on Thursday, August 7. There is no admission cost.
Other band performances are:
• Westerleigh Park, Staten Island on Friday, August 8;
• Syracuse University on Saturday, August 9;
• Smith Opera House in Geneva, New York on Sunday, August 10;
• Auburn Jr. High School in Auburn, New York on Monday, August 11;
• Eisenhower Park in East Meadow, New York on Wednesday August 13;
• And Shepards Park in Lake George, New York on Friday, August 15.
The 42nd Infantry Division was famous in World War I for being comprised of National Guard units from around the country. Its first Chief of Staff, General Douglas McArthur had said the division stretched across the country "like a Rainbow."
In World War II the division always displayed the flags of all 48 states at all official ceremonies to reflect that tradition. During its deployment to Iraq the 42nd Division, now a part of the New York Army National Guard continued the tradition, displaying the flags of all 50 states and all US territories.
Members of the press are welcome to attend the 42nd Infantry Division Band reunion Saturday evening at Camp Smith, located on Routes 202 and 6 in Cortlandt Manor.
For access to this secure military facility reporters must call Sgt 1st Class Becky Rapp at 914-944-6552.