Operation Tribute to Freedom

OTF Soldier Story for August 30, 2010 - Staff Sgt. Jonathan Milburn

Staff Sergeant Jonathan Milburn

Current Unit: The United States Army Field Band
Current Position: Operational Tour Coordinator
Component: Active Army
Current Location: Fort Meade, Md.
Hometown: Devers, Texas
Years of Service: 5

Music has always been an important part of Jonathan Milburn’s life. From an early age, he saw its power to move and motivate people. Now a staff sergeant, Milburn is using his music to bolster the spirits of Soldiers around the world through the Army’s bands. An accomplished clarinetist, Millburn has performed from Korea to the remote areas of Iraq sharing the Army story through music.

During his deployment to Iraq last year, Milburn handled all of the logistical support for the GO-1 Underground, the division’s rock band ensemble. In addition to his responsibilities as a musician, he was also tasked with coordinating more than 200 musical missions.

Although Milburn has performed for audiences around the world, it was a special honor to encourage his fellow Soldiers serving far away from their Families.

“They were always very receptive to having us perform, and grateful that we would be willing to travel to them. It was amazing to see the band’s ability to boost morale and lift the Soldiers’ spirits,” he said.

His experiences in Iraq coordinating logistics for the 1st Calvary Division band provided him a strong foundation and transition for his current role with The United States Army Field Band in Fort Meade, Md. Serving as the operational tour coordinator for The Volunteers, the Army’s touring rock music band, Milburn is responsible for handling all tour logistics, including making initial contact with sponsors, lining up concert sites, publicity, and coordinating tour schedules.

“My main concern is to ensure that the tour is error free and everything goes smoothly,” he said.

In preparation for the Volunteers’ performance season, Milburn will travel the tour route several months in advance to survey venues, plan the travel route, confirm lodging and mitigate any logistical complications.

“The band is on such a tight schedule, I make sure that everything goes according to plan,” he said, adding that the tour often has last-minute changes due to road construction or other unforeseen obstacles. “The band is so versatile. Not only are they talented musicians but they are able to adapt easily.”

Originally from Devers, Texas, Milburn is a graduate of Liberty High School in Liberty, Texas. He’d originally planned to play in a college marching band, however, he found the Army’s Civilian Acquired Skills Program, which allows citizens with specific skills to join at a higher enlistment grade. For Milburn, the Army provided the perfect opportunity to combine his passion for music with the honor of serving his country in uniform.

“This was my first job, and it will be my only job,” he said. “I plan to make a career out of it because the work is so rewarding.”

“In the music community, there is very little job security, but with the Army, I have a guaranteed job, and it is a good job that I enjoy doing,” he said.

Milburn currently lives in Odenton, Md., and is pursuing a bachelor’s degree through the University of Maryland University College’s distance learning program.

Telling the Army Story: Community Relations

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