• Maj. Gary Eberly, head surgeon for the 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, spends some down time playing his guitar on Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.

    Brigade surgeon handles his instrument

    Maj. Gary Eberly, head surgeon for the 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, spends some down time playing his guitar on Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.

  • Maj. Gary Eberly, head surgeon for the 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, picks some tunes in the afternoon sunshine on Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.

    Surgeon works another instrument

    Maj. Gary Eberly, head surgeon for the 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, picks some tunes in the afternoon sunshine on Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.

Band Geek. That's how this Soldier and commissioned officer of the 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division (SBCT) describes himself. But judging from his current occupation as the Brigade Surgeon one might never know it.

Maj. Gary Eberly, from Burbank, Washington, played the saxophone all through high school but eventually put down his musical instrument to pick up medical books. He enlisted in the Army in 1991 as a medic for some college money, and was later accepted in the Uniformed Services University of Health and Science, which commissioned him as a second lieutenant. Now he's the Brigade Surgeon.

He deployed to Afghanistan with the 5th Brigade in July of 2009, his second deployment, and quickly found the need to pick up music again.

"I played guitar on and off through high school and my first couple years of college. But you can imagine a med school student doesn't have much of a personal life so I just couldn't find the time to keep playing. Now that I'm here I figure this is as good a time as any to really learn to play the guitar."

Eberly digs the sounds of Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. His Ipod selections suggest he has a particular liking for classic rock and blues. He says he likes all music, except for Gangster Rap.

"I'll listen to anything once," he says, "I'll even give a gangster rap song a chance."
He has an electric guitar with him in Afghanistan but spends most of his time playing a Dean acoustic guitar which has a warm tone. Still in the beginner phase, he seems happy to show off some simple Green Day tunes.

"I enjoy folky acoustic stuff, like Simon and Garfunkel styles. They're fun to play."

Eberly fancies getting a Gibson Les Paul some day, but wants to improve his skills before committing to such a pricey instrument. For now, he uses the guitar as a way to relax and escape from the unpleasantness of a combat environment. And whether someone needs some acoustic soul for their soul, or serious medical attention, Eberly may just have the cure for what ails you. After all, he's a healer and an unlikely former band geek, serving his country.

Page last updated Thu January 28th, 2010 at 11:40