COLLEGE STATION – Texas Aggies will hold more than 300 Muster ceremonies around the world Thursday (April 21), including three in Iraq and four in Afghanistan. The largest ceremony will be held on the Texas A&M University campus and is expected to attract more than 12,500 students, former students and others.
A map showing the locations of the off-campus Musters is at http://www.aggienetwork.com/muster/search.aspx.
The campus ceremony is set for 7 p.m. at Reed Arena, where a capacity crowd of students, former students, families and friends is expected to join in the unique ceremony.
Tobin (Toby) Boenig, Class of 1995, has been selected as the 2011 campus Muster speaker. He is the associate vice president and chief compliance officer for the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB Health). Boenig is responsible for planning, implementing and maintaining an effective compliance program at UTMB Health. He monitors and reports results of compliance efforts across the institution and provides guidance to executive management regarding compliance issues and requirements, as well as regulatory law advice.
Boenig served in many student leadership positions while at Texas A&M, including student body president and speaker of the student senate. He graduated cum laude in 1996 with a bachelor of science degree in agricultural development and later graduated from the University of Texas School of Law.
He returned to Texas A&M in June 1998 to work in the Services for Students with Disabilities Office and later took over as manager of collegiate licensing that same year. While his professional career at Texas A&M was brief, he says he was honored to have a Fish Camp named after him.
A student committee selects the campus Muster speaker.
Muster is Texas A&M’s solemn and most visible tradition. It is a time set aside to honor Aggies who have died since the last such annual ceremony.
No matter where Aggies are, whether they are as few as two or as many as the thousands who gather on the Texas A&M campus, they come together each April 21 for Muster. Planners say the exact number of Muster ceremonies is difficult to determine because some are spontaneous, including some held on battlefields, just as happened during World Wars I and II and in Korea and Vietnam.
Many former students return to campus for Muster, among them those who graduated 50 years before who hold a special class reunion. This year it will be Texas A&M’s Class of 1961.
Though it ends on a somber note, the day of Muster begins with fun.
Activities begin with a 7:05 a.m. flag-raising ceremony and Corps of Cadets formation in the plaza in front of the Academic Building and will be followed at 11 a.m. by the annual Camaraderie Barbecue at Simpson Drill Field. The event will include entertainment by several student groups. Organizers say this is a chance for Aggies of all ages to gather and share fun and tell stories and “live over again” their days at Texas A&M. They add that it also gives current students a chance to spend time with the anniversary Class of 1961.
The doors to Reed Arena will open at 5 p.m. and seating is on a first-come, first-serve basis. Parking information, including maps of West Campus, can be found by going to http://transport.tamu.edu/.
At each Muster ceremony around the world, a speaker will be followed by the “Roll Call For The Absent.” Names of those from that area who have died in the past year will be read, and as each name is called, a family member or friend will answer “Here” and a candle will be lit.
Following the candle-lighting ceremony in Reed Arena, the Ross Volunteer Company will march in to fire a rifle volley followed by a special arrangement of “Taps.” In addition, the ceremony also will include performances by the Singing Cadets and the Aggie Band.
A relatively new addition to the Muster tradition is “Reflections.” Its purpose is to more fully recognize the lives of the Aggies being honored by displaying personal items of the Roll Call honorees as a memorial to them. These items will be on display in the Rudder Exhibit Hall from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday (April 19-20) and again from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. the day of Muster (Thursday).
Muster was first held on June 26, 1883. Former students of Texas A&M, then called ex-cadets, were to gather and “…live over again our college days, the victories and defeats won and lost upon drill ground and classroom. Let every alumnus answer a roll call.”
Muster was held in Europe during World War I, where thousands of Aggies were serving. During World War II, Gen. George F. Moore, Texas A&M Class of 1908, was the commander of Fort Mills on Corregidor Island in the Philippines. He, along with 25 other Aggies on the island, held a Muster celebration on April 21, 1942. By May 6 the island had fallen to Japanese forces and all of those Aggies were either captured or killed.
The most well-known Muster was held after the war in 1946, when Aggies who were present among the American armed forces on Corregidor once again held Muster on the island.
For more information about Muster, including a list of the “Roll Call For The Absent” and Muster sites, see The Association of Former Students website at: http://www.aggienetwork.com/muster/ or http://muster.tamu.edu/ or call (979) 845-7514.