PRIDE OF THE EAGLE: 101st Big 5 Rock band pays tribute to Gold Star Families

By Sgt. Patrick KirbyMarch 28, 2019

Select members of the 101st Airborne Division Band known as the Big 5 headed to Nashville Friday for a recording session at Columbia Studio A.

Columbia Studio A is part of Belmont University and the recording session provided a mutual training opportunity during which musicians of the 101st and Belmont graduate students could collaborate on a project.

The project: Record "Light of a Gold Star," a song written by Air Force Lt. Col. John Stea, a Kentucky Air National Guard flight surgeon. Stea wrote the song as a tribute to Gold Star Families.

"I really had to think a lot about what loss meant to a person." he said. "It came to me gradually through a sense of being a physician. I know many people who have experienced losses and [I was] trying to find the right words to describe both the sense of loss and also a sense of peacefulness and hope for the future."

Although the song has been recorded twice, it has not yet been released.

"Having the [Big 5] band record the song is the greatest honor of my professional-musical career," Stea said.

He chose the Big 5 band to professionally record the song after a conversation with a colleague who had heard Sgt. Katherine Bolcar sing. Bolcar serves as a vocalist in the 101st Airborne Division Band, as well as in Big 5.

"I've recorded a lot of tunes before," Bolcar said. "Nothing like this with such a meaningful subject matter. Most of what I recorded has been for fun," Bolcar said. "Songs that just aren't as poignant."

For Bolcar, this song is evergreen.

"It's always going to mean something to every generation that comes along, very much like 'America the Beautiful' or even 'God Bless the USA,'" she said. "Those are songs that have deep roots in America and deep meaning to Soldiers. The subject matter is very close to a lot of people's hearts. It's one of those tunes that kind of does what music does and shines a light in some pretty dark places."

Brent Hauer, an audio engineering graduate student at Belmont University, is a former 101st Airborne Division Band member who assisted in coordinating the studio space for recording session.

"I think it's awesome that Gold Star Families will not only get to hear the song, but they're not just hearing it from random musicians," Hauer said.

"It's musicians that are within that community and understand what it is they're putting out as well. I mean, when Sgt. Bolcar is singing those lyrics, she knows what all that is. It's important to all of them, so I think that's going to come through in the product and I think the people listening to it will pick up on that."

A free digital download of the song will be available as early as mid-December. Anyone interested in more, can follow the 101st Airborne Division Band on Facebook at