NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. — At 98 years old, World War II veteran Fred Faulkner keeps himself busy with his love of music.

What You Need To Know

  • Fred Faulkner took part in the Battle of the Bulge during the winter of 1944 

  • He composed a piece about the battle 10 years ago called “The Ardennes March”

  • On May 12, the Florida Orchestra played the piece for the first time during its largest event of the year 

Faulkner was in the U.S. Army during WWII with duties in the Signal Corps — where he listened in on German radio transmissions. He took part in the Battle of the Bulge in the winter of 1944. The massive counterattack by Nazi forces against the allies would turn out to be one of the largest battles fought by the U.S. in the European theatre.

“We had the cold on top of the conflict," Faulkner said. "A shortage of supplies. You pick it, it happened to us."

As part of a lifelong love of music, Faulkner has played in small groups and marching bands over the years. That eventually led him to add composer to his list talents.

About 10 years ago, he decided to write a piece about the Battle of the Bulge, naming it “The Ardennes March."

“It’s just a way of expression for me, it’s been a major part of my life,” Faulkner said.

Recently, that composition was handed over to Ross Holcombe — the associate principal trombone player with the Florida Orchestra — who helped arrange it for the orchestra to play.

“I think it’s even more incredible that Fred is not a classically trained musician or composer — that he found a way to do this," Holcombe said. "He had something inside that wanted to come out."

The Florida Orchestra premiered “The Ardennes March” during its “Pops in the Park” event on May 12. After playing Faulkner’s piece, they brought him up front and center to act as conductor and he led the orchestra through John Philip Sousa's “The Stars and Stripes Forever.”

“The first couple of bars I was a little bit nervous, but it didn’t take long before I got into it,” Faulkner said.

Faulkner is considered to be part of what many call “the greatest generation” — a generation that is quickly fading into the history books.

Very few remain, but Faulkner said he hopes his music will live on, so future generations never forget about the millions of lives lost in WWII.