Louis S. Yassel remembered the time his horse kicked a hole in the big bass drum during the parade welcoming Charles Lindbergh to Washington after his historic flight to Paris.
"Didn't throw me though," Mr. Yassel used to recall.
Those were the days when one of the great ceremonial military units in Washington was the mounted band of the 3rd U.S. Cavalry Regiment. Mr. Yassel was director of the band from 1926 to 1942.
His retirement that year ended a military career that spanned more than 40 years, almost all of which was devoted to music.
Troops of the 3rd Infantry, now the Army's crack ceremonial unit, were scheduled to turn out today for the burial of the old soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. A bugler was to play taps.
Mr. Yassel, a chief warrant officer when he retired from the Army, died of cardiac arrest Tuesday at Walter Reed Army Hospital. He was 99.
He began his military career as a private in the 21st Infantry in 1899, and served with the regiment against insurgents in the Philippines. BY then, his musical talents had come to the notice of authorities and he became a cornetist in the regimental band.
In 1902, he enlisted in the 28th Infantry and served in Cuba, and then in the old 4th Coastal Artillery, where he was leader of the band.
In 1921, he was ordered to Washington to help organize the U.S. Army Band, known as "Pershing's Own." In 1926, he was assigned to the 3rd Cavalry.
While he was with the cavalry band, he composed a number of marches. They were dedicated to commanding officers, war mothers, and to an Arlington County School superintendent.
He became director of the Washington-Lee High School band in 1928 in addition to his military duties, and he continued to direct it after he left the Army. He retired a second time in 1949.
Born in Austria, Mr Yassel came to this country with his family at the age of three, and grew up in Pennsylvania.
A 33rd degree Mason, he had belonged to the Scottish Rite Temple for many years and had directed the Almas Temple Band.In 1968, he was elected director emeritus of the band, as had John Sousa before him.
He is survived by his wife of 73 years, Olga, of the home in Washington; three daughters, Mabel Meeker and Ethel Holtzclaw, both of Washington, and Mary Tribby, of Arlington; 11 grandchildren; 28 great-grandchildren, and three great-great-grandchildren.