CAMP TAJI, Iraq - Soldiers deployed to Iraq sang, strummed and shimmied, Oct. 17, in a talent show showcasing the talents of service members and civilians working on Camp Taji.

Taji Got Talent was organized by Soldiers from the Enhanced Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, an aviation unit from Fort Riley, Kan., as a way to boost morale among their ranks.

With that intent came a wide array of performances, as service members and civilians from across the base brought to the stage over 20 acts of dancing, singing and music.

Spc. Ka'shara Jackson and Staff Sgt. Christy Salmond organized and participated in the show.

"In Operation New Dawn, we're shutting everything down and there's a lot less for Soldiers to do on their down-time," said Salmond, a native of Archbald, Pa. "We wanted to give Soldiers a chance to get up there, do their thing, and bring morale up."

Both Jackson and Salmond traded their uniforms for costumes to participate in several acts throughout the night.

"I love to sing, and I've been dancing for about eight years," said Jackson, a native of Raleigh, N.C. "I may fall down, or mess up, it doesn't really matter. It's all in fun, and we'll be talking about this show for the rest of the deployment."

Staff Sgt. Joe Riddle performed several acts, both independently and with Jambo, a band he formed with fellow Soldiers this June.

"We all love performing, it's definitely a release," said Riddle. "It helps boost our morale, and hopefully it helps boost their morale."

All three of these Soldiers, like many of the participants and spectators, are serving their second deployment to the Middle East. None of them expected to be on stage in Iraq.

The brigade will likely host another Taji Got Talent before returning to the states this March. Meanwhile, Jackson said that they may try to organize another morale boosting event, such as a Camp Taji spin-off of the television series "So You Think You Can Dance'"

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16