Marching band flies home to play fight song for Ford

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The University of Michigan marching band played its third performance in 36 hours – with little or no sleep – late Tuesday afternoon.

But no one was complaining. Almost everyone wanted to head from Pasadena, Calif., and the Rose Bowl to Grand Rapids to play one last time for a beloved alumnus – former President Gerald R. Ford.

“They first asked for volunteers, and everybody volunteered,” said drum major Iden Baghdadchi of Farmington, Mich. “We left the palm trees and warm weather for a once-in-a-lifetime chance.”

Band members got up early Monday to march in the Rose Bowl Parade. After performing at halftime during the 32-18 loss to the University of Southern California, the band hopped on a plane and got back to Detroit Metropolitan Airport at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Band members were to have their only free day in Los Angeles on Tuesday, but the Ford family asked that the band return to Grand Rapids.

Ford played center for Michigan’s football team in 1932-34, receiving MVP honors his senior year.

Ford’s son Steve talked with the band after the ceremony at the airport and told them it was one of the best renditions of “The Victors” he had ever heard.

“He told us that President Ford wanted to hear the fight song one last time,” Baghdadchi said.

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