Little did I know that I would be selected to play trombone in the Quantico Marine Band, in Quantico, VA, about 30 miles from Washington, DC. Dwight D. Eisenhower was the President, and Richard Nixon was the Vice President.
Both Dwight D, Eisenhower and my father, Hugh Henry Morgan, were born in Denison, TX. My dad was born there on December 12, 1884. Dwight Eisenhower was born six years later. The Eisenhowers moved to Kansas, and the Morgans moved to Oklahoma. Eisenhower became a great Army general and President of the United States. Morgan was called to preach and was an evangelist/church planter/pastor as well as a contractor/builder/carpenter.
I started taking trombone lessons in the third grade. I took lessons every Saturday at E.E. Forbes Music Company in Birmingham, Alabama. The band director for Ensley High School was my teacher. I loved the trombone so much that it motivated me to practice. While in grammar school, Mrs. Smith came to our school and taught music lessons. She played piano beautifully and I took trombone lessons from her. She had me playing advanced trombone solos for dinner banquets. Her husband, Gerald Smith, was the director of the Woodlawn High School Band and Orchestra. In fact, while I was in the 8th grade at Gibson Grammar School he invited me to play trombone in the high school orchestra. When I got to high school in the ninth grade I auditioned and was selected for first trombone second chair. As I recall, our band number a 100 or more and we had 13 trombone players.
My parents purchased a small farm and we moved to Clay about 30 miles from Birmingham. I was required to transfer to Hewitt High School and I lost all interest in playing in the band. So, I quit playing, except on certain occasions.
To make a long story short, I had answered a questionnaire in the Marine Corps that I played trombone. One day while in Boot Camp, I was summoned to go to the band office for an audition. So, I was given a trombone to play. The band director had me play something I knew, and then I had to sight read a musical piece. To my amazement I passed the audition, and before I left to go home for a week after boot camp, I had been given orders to go to Quantico, VA, to play in the Marine Band there. We, as a band, often played for President Eisenhower when he came down for a graduation class of 2nd lieutenants. Quantico is where Marine officer are trained. The FBI also has an academy and lab there.
There is a Marine Band in Washington, DC. called the President's Band. The jobs they were unable to take we were often were given to perform.
In 1955, our Quantico Marine Band was asked by the State Department to go to Havana, Cuba for the inauguration of Fulgencio Batista, prior to the overthrow of his administration by Fidel Castro. We were housed in the beautiful Plaza Hotel with tall ceilings and large windows that opened wide to feel the cool breezes from the Caribbean Sea. As I recall, we were there for five days. We played several concerts and marched and played in exciting parades. One afternoon, we played a concert at the American Embassy right on the sea. Blind children from a blind school were bused in to hear us play. At the close of the concert, our band director informed us that the blind children would like to feel of our horns and talk with us. I was deeply moved by these precious children who could not see, but were eager to learn and expand their knowledge. Of course, we had translators to help us communicate with the children.
Two years later, I felt called of God to go to /Cuba to preach. It happened in the Thursday noon fast and prayer service in Hughes Auditorium at Asbury College (now a university). My roommate was Carl Ricks from Indiana. He, like me, had served in the Marine Corps. We learned that a missionary who lived in Wilmore was taking a group to Pinar del Rio, Cuba in June of 1957 for a couple of weeks. We had to raise the money to go. I had no money, but Pastor J. V. Owen invited me to preach a revival and work in his daily vacation Bible school. To my amazement, his church, the Roebuck Pentecostal Holiness gave me in a love offering that more than provided the money I needed.
Carl Ricks had a car and he drove us to Key West, Florida where we boarded a commercial aircraft for Havana. We were greeted by the Rev. Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Willey who had a bus to take us to their Free Will Baptist mission in the Pinar del Rio Province of Western Cuba. We were given opportunity to help them in their mission compound, to travel to various villages where they had an outreach. I played my trombone for them, showed the children how I could walk on my hands, stand on my head, and rid a bicycle backwards. When we got a crowd of children, youth and parents we were given the opportunity to preach and lead them to Jesus Christ.
In the meantime, Fidel Castro was actively leading and organizing a revolution that would eventually overthrow the government, and the rest is history. The atrocities were many, and Castro was brutal and killed hundreds of people, threw people in prisons, and caused many to flee the county.
Let us pray for Cuba that the Gospel can be preached and the Cuban will be saved.