The trumpet traveled with its owner on deployment to Iraq.
Its owner, Matt Miller of Sun Prairie, played it for many military functions. And, he made joyful noises with it when he was with the UW-Madison Marching Band.
Then it was gone.
Miller last played the horn with his Army Reserves band in the Milwaukee area over Veterans Day weekend. The Army put band members up at a hotel in Glendale, and that’s when someone smashed a window in his pickup truck and took it.
The horn wasn’t in plain sight, Matt said, and other items in the truck weren’t taken. Go figure.
The trumpet was a Christmas gift from his parents when he was a sophomore in high school. He preferred it to the one the Army gave him to play when he joined the 484th Army Reserves Band.
Miller’s wife (who was known as Chelsea Liebetrau when she was growing up in Janesville) put a notice on Facebook about the theft after Matt came home, in hopes someone would help find the treasured brass instrument.
By chance, the lost horn was made at Getzen Co. in Elkhorn.
The post got more than 4,000 shares, and a school band director who was married to a former Getzen worker forwarded the post to Brett Getzen.
Getzen, the company’s president, invited the Millers to Elkhorn for a tour and to pick up a new horn.
The Millers toured the Getzen factory last week, and Getzen gave Matt four trumpets to try. He picked one that worked best for him.
It was the first of its kind, issued to commemorate the company’s 80th anniversary next year, Getzen said.
Getzen said the horn’s suggested retail price is around $3,000.
“We’re still kind of shocked about it all,” Chelsea said Friday.
Getzen said he wouldn’t have done it for just anyone, but he was moved by the fact that Matt is an Army reservist from Wisconsin who played a trumpet made by his family’s company, and the fact that it was stolen on Veterans Day.
“He’s performed at countless military funerals, played “Taps” on it, so there’s a strong emotional bond to that thing,” Getzen said. “I told (Chelsea) that there’s no way we can replace it, but hopefully we can have something that will fill in that hole left behind a little bit.”
Chelsea said the gift means more to her husband than he can put into words.
“He’s speechless,” she said. “He’ll kill me, but he keeps looking at it and just laughing, you know, like it’s just so surreal.
“He doesn’t want to touch it. He goes downstairs after everybody’s in bed, and he practices. He doesn’t want to get fingerprints on it. …
“He said this one’s lightyears above the old one he was playing,” she added.
Matt works at the William S. Middleton Veterans Administration Hospital. He’s a scheduler, providing clerical support for the sleep lab and the traumatic brain injury clinic.
“He’s really passionate about helping out those veterans,” Chelsea said.
Matt is more than pleased with the new horn, saying he’s really not worthy of it. But he regrets losing the old one. He played in the UW Marching Band in 2007-08, and it’s the trumpet used to audition for the Army band.
“We’re just so grateful,” Chelsea said.
“I don’t think it was something special that we did,” Getzen said. “It’s just doing what I thought was the right thing to do.”
This past weekend, Matt was scheduled to perform with the new trumpet for the first time, as his unit’s band backs up Christmas carolers in the Milwaukee area.