TOWNSEND — First Sergeant James Thaxter, originally of Townsend, is retiring from the Army after 29 years of service and music.
Thaxter, who played trumpet in the Army Band throughout his military career, was honored in a ceremony at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio on May 30, where he received the Legion of Merit medal for outstanding achievement.
Sgt. James Thaxter’s brother, Charles Thaxter, said his brother’s love of and commitment to music contributed to his success in his career.
“A lot of people don’t think Army Bands are an important part of the institution, but he thought it did great stuff for the Army in terms of morale,” Charles Thaxter said.
Sgt. Thaxter will be retiring to Fairbanks, Alaska, where he will study business at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Thaxter’s mother, Barbara Thaxter, still lives in Townsend.
Sgt. Thaxter entered the Army in 1984 after getting a master’s degree in music from Boston University. He also received a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Oklahoma and a bachelor’s degree in trumpet performance from the Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester.
He has been stationed in Germany, Japan and South Korea. His most recent assignment was in San Antonio.
He said there was no such thing as a typical day in his job.
“You do your physical training in the morning, then have rehearsals all day. You also work a lot over nights and weekends playing at different events. You’re working when everyone else is off.”
Throughout his career, Thaxter has received numerous awards, including the Army Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the National Defense Service Medal with one bronze star.
Charles Thaxter said his brother was a strong role model for younger members of the Army Band.
“I think part of his success is that he really did enjoy working in the Army Band. He enjoyed helping the younger guys coming in build their careers.”
Sgt. Thaxter said lending a helping hand was just part of the job.
“It was a question of not only mentoring them but setting an example of someone who could take care of the Army side and still be a professional musician. They could see an older soldier who was a company man, but could still play and still loved his music,” Sgt. Thaxter said.
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