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Glenn Miller Goes To War With The Army Air Force Band

Major Glenn Miller went missing over the English Channel in December 1944. For decades afterwards, much of his wartime orchestra's music went missing as well.

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Glenn Miller Army Air Force Band

Photo: CD cover art

A swinging big band, a modern-jazz small group, a ballads singer, an orchestra with strings--the Miller Army Air Force Band could do it all.

It was one of the greatest jazz orchestras ever assembled, led by a popular bandleader who took it overseas to raise the morale of the Allied soldiers fighting World War II in Europe—and who then vanished at the height of his popularity.

Glenn Miller Goes To War With The Army Air Force Band” features interviews with AAF band member Nat Peck (who signed on with Miller’s military ensemble in 1943 at the age of 19), historian Michael McGerr, and the music of the AAF in all of its configurations—ballads with singer Johnny Desmond, uptempo swing numbers featuring the big band, easy-listening with-strings recordings, a modern-jazz small group side with pianist Mel Powell, and a once-in-a-lifetime encounter with Bing Crosby in England in August 1944. Much of this music was heard only on the radio during the war and is far less familiar than that of Miller’s pre-war civilian big band.

We’ll also hear some historic broadcasts—Miller signing off on his last Chesterfield show before joining the military, the last stateside program by the AAF before leaving for Europe, and a moving Christmas Day 1944 broadcast from Paris, just hours after Miller had been reported missing.

More About Glenn Miller And The Army Air Force Orchestra

Watch video footage from July 1944 of the AAF at a military parade in England:

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Music Heard On This Episode

Enlisted Men's Mess
Glenn Miller AAF — The Secret Broadcasts (RCA, 1996)
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Enlisted Men's Mess
Glenn Miller AAF — The Secret Broadcasts (RCA, 1996)
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The Music Stopped
Glenn Miller AAF — Missing Chapters V. 1: American Patrol (Avid, 2007)
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Jukebox Saturday Night
Glenn Miller — Legendary Performer (RCA, 1991)
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St. Louis Blues
Glenn Miller AAF — Army Air Force Band (RCA, 2001)
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Moon Dreams
Glenn Miller AAF — Army Air Force Band (RCA, 2001)
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Jeep Jockey Jump
Glenn Miller AAF — Army Air Force Band (RCA, 2001)
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Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'
Glenn Miller AAF — Army Air Force Band (RCA, 2001)
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Guns in the Sky (midpoint music bed)
Glenn Miller AAF — Missing Chapters V. 6--Blue Champagne (Avid, 2007)
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All's Well Mademoiselle
Glenn Miller AAF — Missing Chapters V. 3: All's Well Mademoiselle (Avid, 2007)
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Long Ago and Far Away
Bing Crosby/AAF — Bing Crosby With Glenn Miller (Broadway, 1983)
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Night in Tunisia
Uptown Hall Gang — Moonlight Serenade (Fabulous, 2002)
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Song of the Volga Boatmen
Glenn Miller AAF — Missing Chapters V. 5: Complete Abbey Road Recordings (Griffin, 1996)
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Spring Will Be a Little Late This Year
Strings With Wings — Missing Chapters V. 8: Get Happy (Avid, 2007)
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Good Night Wherever You Are
Glenn Miller AAF — The Secret Broadcasts (RCA, 1996)
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David Brent Johnson

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, David Brent Johnson moved to Bloomington in 1991. He is an alumnus of Indiana University, and began working with WFIU in 2002. Currently, David serves as jazz producer and systems coordinator at the station. His interests include literature, history, music, writing, and movies.

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  • Bruno Leicht

    So fabulous!! I am swirling around in my gown dancing to this beautiful beautiful music!!

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