AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Since its creation in 2013, Amarillo Firefighters Pipes and Drums have helped to honor their fallen brothers and bring closure to those families all across the state and country.
“It’s so powerful and the music is so powerful,” said Randy Johnson, Amarillo Firefighters Pipes and Drums Member.
What better way to describe what the Amarillo Firefighters Pipes and Drums do, than powerful.
Playing at different memorials and funerals for fallen firefighters, pipes and drums members find it hard to describe the emotion that comes with it.
“I search for the words to say but I really don’t know. All I know is sometimes whenever we play events, a lot of times when we play events especially. Sometimes there won’t be a dry eye in the group when we start playing,” said Lonnie Hollabaugh, Amarillo Firefighters Pipes and Drums Member.
“Just being there is powerful itself but especially when you meet a family member of a fallen firefighter and they tell you how appreciative they are of what we’re doing. It really lets you know that you’re doing something good,” said Johnson.
Pre-pandemic, Amarillo Firefighters Pipes and Drums performed all over Texas including San Antonio and Dallas.
They would also travel to Colorado Springs every year for the Fallen Firefighter Memorial.
“We just go and honor the fallen from the previous year. So there’s typically about a 1,000 band members there and probably the same amount of honor guard that are there that weekend to honor the fallen,” said Johnson.
One of the most recognizable songs that Pipes and Drums performs of course is “Amazing Grace.”
“It’s such an emotional music and such a meaningful music. I think that it touches a lot of folks in a situation like that,” said Hollabaugh.
What you will commonly hear from firefighters is how much of a brotherhood it is.
Johnson and Hollabaugh said it’s just like that if not more so in Pipes and Drums.
“It’s just like a smaller version, a more tight knit version of the firefighters. It’s the brotherhood and being a part of those families that have lost members. It’s a mighty feeling,” said Hollabaugh.
“The fire department itself is a brotherhood but the brotherhood of the band is a little bit different just due to the nature of what we’re doing and the closeness of the guys,” said Johnson.
“It’s something bigger than us and it brings a lot of closure and a lot of comfort to the families that we see and that we deal with, especially the honor we give to their fallen loved one is a big deal to them,” said Hollabaugh.
For clarification, Amarillo Firefighters Pipes and Drums is a non-profit and a separate entity from the Amarillo Fire Department.
AFD helped them with some initial funding when they first started by purchasing the uniforms that you see them wearing at those funerals and memorials.
To keep the band going, they play at public events to raise funds and to fund their travels to different performances.
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