USAF Twirler Maurice Wilcox twirls for WBAP-TV, Fort Worth, 1951, ahead of a band concert at Will Rogers Coliseum.
Maurice Wilcox was a four-time world champion baton twirler and a twirler in the United States Air Force Band. Wilcox competed all over the world including international competitions in Buenos Aires, Copenhagen, Stockhom and Sydney. In addition, during his career he performed for the Kind of England, King of Sweden and President Harry S. Truman. Moreover, he appeared in movies and on television, including Episode 73 of the Cavalcade of Stars. Unfortunately, we have not been able to locate a clip of the episode.
On November 13, 1951, he performed with the USAF band during a concert at Will Rogers Coliseum. The event was covered by WBAP-TV Fort Worth. The video is preserved in archives held by the University of North Texas.
Required Citation: WBAP-TV (Television station : Fort Worth, Tex.). [News Clip: Air Force band], video, November 13, 1951; (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1707654/: accessed July 30, 2023), University of North Texas Libraries, UNT Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Special Collections.
United States Air Force Band
The United States Air Force Band is one of the most respected, versatile and accomplished musical organizations in the world. From its humble beginnings with only three enlisted musicians to today’s 184-member premier musical organization, The U.S. Air Force Band continues the tradition of representing the United States Air Force and its over 400,000 dedicated Active Duty and Air National Guard members, to a global audience. “The United States Air Force Band” is the title of the Air Force’s premier musical squadron which includes the Concert Band, Singing Sergeants, the Airmen of Note, the Air Force Strings, Ceremonial Brass, Max Impact, Chamber Players, and many other ensemble combinations, including rock, pop, country, and dedicated show units.
Born out of a nation about to enter the Second World War, The USAF Band started off as just one of 59 “Air Force Bands” activated on October 1, 1941.
The history of the United States Air Force band is featured on a website dedicated to the band. A pdf of the history is available. It’s a beautiful record of the band’s history including key players. Unfortunately, it does not mention Wilcox or twirling even though one can assume he was present during Truman’s inauguration. The event is highlighted on page 55 of the The U.S. Air Force Band Diamond Celebration History Book, Part 1.
Wilcox was featured in a story in the Washington D.C.-based Evevning News on December 9, 1951. Here is an excerpt:
Baton Twirler Has Spot on Program…Music representative of eight countries visited by the Air Force Symphony Orchestra on its last tour, will be the theme of the group’s program Thursday in the Departmental Auditorium at 8:30 p.m. The orchestra under Col. George S. Howard, will give a premier to A Song Is a Sad Thing by Amanda de la Colina, wife of the Mexican Ambassador to this country. The concert will honor the state department employees who handle arrangements for the European tours made by the Air Force Band…The added attraction is Sergt. Maurice Wilcox, four-time world’s champion baton twirler. Sergt. Wilcox combines ballet dancing with baton twirling. Among special appearance were command performances at the White House; Buckingham Palace in 1949 and one for King Gustavus VI of Sweden in 1950. The latter presented him with a gold-plated baton as memento of the occasion. Serg. Wilcox has amassed a total of 138 medals, 42 trophies and 18 medallions.
We don’t know what became of Wilcox. We located several obituaries and headstones with the name Maurice Wilcox but cannot confirm via the details provided that they are the military baton twirler. In addition, we cannot find any more records of his military service. He is not listed among the casualties in Vietnam or Korea.
Wilcox is identified as a Pfc (Private First Class) in the Fort Worth news story, which indicates he was a member of the Air Force Band but not in the Air Force. Rather, he was in the Army Air Force; the Army or the Marines.