Alumni Profiles is an ongoing series highlighting successful graduates who, with a SUNY education, achieved interesting and influential careers.
Colonel Thomas H. Palmatier is a musician, serviceman, and family man. He earned his Bachelor of Music degree from SUNY Potsdam in 1975, and went on to earn his Master of Fine Arts degree in music from Truman State University. He also later completed a Master of Strategic Studies degree from the U.S. Army War College.
Col. Palmatier was appointed ninth leader and commander of the U.S. Army Band, “Pershing’s Own,” in August 2011. He previously served as commander and conductor of the U.S. Army Field Band, making him the first officer to command both of the Army’s top premier bands. He is currently the senior military musician in the Department of Defense.
Among his accomplishments, Col. Palmatier has led the White House Herald Trumpets, performing at every ceremony the President of the United States attended and has conducted performances at five Presidential Inaugurations. He was the first Army Band officer to earn both the Parachutist and Air Assault Badges, and earned the right to wear a combat patch for service in El Salvador and Iraq.
His support for his alma mater has been unwavering, as he has returned to campus to lead masterclasses and conduct at The Crane School of Music, as well as for the Crane Youth Music camp and was honored with the 2010 Minerva Award by the SUNY Potsdam Alumni Association.
Col. Palmatier has also generously established the Band Guest Artist Fund at SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music to provide financial support for Crane’s band program in order to raise the program’s national profile. He and his wife, Shirley, are campaign leadership donors for Take the Lead: The Campaign for Potsdam, which aims to raise $27 million to support the SUNY Potsdam student experience by the College’s bicentennial in 2016.