The U.S. Air Force is getting into the holiday spirit!

By Erin Hill
December 02, 2016 01:25 PM
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The U.S. Air Force is getting into the holiday spirit!

Visitors at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum were in for a festive surprise when members of the U.S. Air Force Band and Honor Guard performed their fourth annual holiday flash mob on Nov. 29.

This year, the Air Force surprised veterans from the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Washington, D.C., who had gathered in the atrium alongside other museum-goers.

The crowd went silent as soon as Senior Master Sgt. Joe Reynolds, a band percussionist, kicked off the performance on a hand drum. He was soon joined by 125 band members, including a chorus singing carols such as “Patapan” and “Ding Dong Merrily on High.”

The surprises continued when Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James (on the handbells!) joined band members on stage.

“This is the fourth year the Band of the U.S. Air Force has kicked off the holiday season with a flash mob and each year is better than the last!” James told PEOPLE. “As we approach the 70th anniversary of the U.S. Air Force, it was fitting for this year’s to be back in the National Air and Space Museum among the history that has defined the greatest Air Force on the planet. This is a small way for us to stop and thank the American public for the outstanding support they show us day in and day out, and spread some holiday cheer!”

Inspiring Airmen and women is one of James’ core motives in her role as Secretary of the Air Force, a position she has held since 2013.

“I see Airmen all over the country and all over the world who are engaged in very important missions and they’re doing a fantastic job,” James told PEOPLE in an exclusive interview. “They are inspirational. That’s the best part of my job.”

“They’re doing incredible things under stressful circumstances — the frequent deployments, separations from family — but they are pulling out the stops and getting the job done time and time again. That makes me proud,” she continued.

The Air Force took this year’s performance up a notch when they paused to film an impressive take on the #MannequinChallenge. (Don’t miss James’ perfect pose at the end!)

The United States Air Force Band began in 1941 with just three musicians and has grown into a 179-member organiaiton, which proudly represents the United States Air Force and its dedicated Active Duty and Air National Guard members.