Working Women: Susan Moser

Susan Moser (Photo: WJLA)

They harken back to colonial times – dressed in uniforms patterned after the first American regiment of 1784. The U.S. Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps represents our nation’s history and patriotism with flair.

In colonial times, there were no women in the corps. Even now, it can be a surprise to come spectators.

But now, Susan Moser is the first female in history to serve as the fife group leader. She leads 24 fifers as they perform nationwide from schools to the White House.

Moser thought she’d do just one enlistment. That was 18 years ago. Moser’s husband plays the bugle in the corps. And they have two young sons.

“The performing the traveling and ended up staying, re-enlisting over and over and I can't believe it's been 16 years already,” she said.

The fife is a wooden instrument so high pitched that fifers wear earplugs. It was designed so military signals would be heard loud and clear.

She’s never been deployed, but there is some hardship involved. The authentic uniforms have three layers of wool, a wig and a wool hat. They wear these even in the middle of summer. Many have passed out from the overwhelming heat.

Three layers of wool can make you seat quite a bit,” Moser said. “But you learn how to deal with it. Hydrate beforehand and try to stay cool as best you can.”

It’s all worth it, however, to see a child’s eyes light up after a performance.

“They are really inspired and excited and that's really fun,” she said.