Volunteers rock Basra on their first 'combat tour'
September 19, 2010
- This is the first tour to a combat zone for the U.S. Army Field Band's "Volunteers" ensemble.
- The band performs contemporary country, jazz and rock and roll.
BASRA, Iraq - For the past 19 years, the U.S. Army Field Band's 'Volunteers' have performed at thousands of venues across North America.
They have serenaded wounded Soldiers bedside at Army hospitals. They've rocked out for 100,000 spectators at major sporting events. But they had never performed in a combat zone ... until this month.
The six-piece band of Soldier-musicians brought its act to southern Iraq, Sept. 15, performing contemporary country, jazz and rock and roll at the Basra Resiliency Campus.
"As a group, we are really excited to have the chance to come over (to Iraq)," Staff Sgt. Glenn Robertson, the Volunteers' drummer, said. "This is the first time, and it's kind of ground-breaking. We're really excited to have the opportunity to do this."
The Volunteers are one of four components of the U.S. Army Field Band, along with the Concert Band, Soldiers' Chorus, and the Jazz Ambassadors. Their primary mission is to travel the globe as part of Army Public Affairs' community outreach program.
Staying so busy performing for civilian communities means they rarely get a chance to entertain their fellow Soldiers. The trip downrange is one the Volunteers relished.
"To be here, it's kind of overwhelming," Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Lindsey, the Volunteers' guitarist from Daytona Beach, Fla., said. "It's great to finally give back the best service that we can do to the Soldiers who have given their best service to this country... We owe it to our brothers and sisters; it's an honor to do this."
Sgt. 1st Class April Boucher, the lively and spunky vocalist for the band, echoed the sentiment.
"We're Soldiers representing Soldiers," the Coshocton, Ohio, native said to the crowd. "This is our favorite tour ever; it's amazing that we get to do it for y'all."
Boucher's enthusiasm showed when she leapt off the stage to get the audience to sing the lyrics to a well known rock 'n' roll oldie.
"This group is so full of energy they make me want to jump on stage and just rock the house," said a spectator.
Lindsey also thanked his hosts in southern Iraq for helping to make the band's experience a memorable one.
"Basra has been amazing. The (1st Infantry Division) Band has been our host, and they've been great, showing us around, hooking us up, gave us a chance to call our Families," Lindsey said. "It's a unique experience."