By Staff Sgt. Mike Alberts, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade Public AffairsJuly 9, 2010
For a moment, Soldiers were anywhere but the desert. There was no wind, sand, heat or war. In their minds, Soldiers were transported by the power of music to more familiar places.
Vertical Horizon, an alternative rock, post-grunge band from Washington, D.C., performed for Soldiers and other attendees at Contingency Operating Base Speicher's South Morale, Welfare and Recreation facility, July 7. A fitting event for Soldiers of the Hawaii-based 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, who begin redeploying from Iraq this month to return home to those familiar places.
The value of diversions like Vertical Horizon for Soldiers in theater was emphasized by several concert attendees from those new to Vertical Horizon's music like Private 1st Class Amber Wyller to long-time fans like Maj. Scott Wyatt.
"The show was great, the [musicians] were really good and I recognized a bunch of songs," said Private 1st Class Amber Wyller, unit supply specialist and armorer, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, Task Force Diamond Head, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade.
"This really took me out of my work [mindset] and I felt like I could just be and enjoy myself, which I really needed after being in Iraq after almost a year. I will never forget that I got to go to a concert in Iraq and listen to great music on my birthday," said the 22 year-old native of Hesperia, Calif.
"I remember Vertical Horizon from back in the 90's when they played at Ziggy's near Wake Forest University where I attended college," said Maj. Scott Wyatt, brigade S-4, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, Task Force Wings. "I followed them through the years. They're still my wife's favorite band, and they sound as good now as they ever have.
"I appreciate them for coming out here and playing for us, especially because they're accustomed to playing for thousands of fans," continued Maj. Wyatt, a native of West Point, N.Y. "But, this was more than just a good time," he added. "Having a chance to get away from work for awhile re-motivates and I think that these events, when done well in a venue like this, are not a distraction and can really be a mission enabler."
Vertical Horizon's playlist included more than a dozen songs from previous albums "Everything You Want" and "Go," as well as songs from their newest release, "Burning the Days." Founding band member and guitarist Matt Scannell explained his motivation for the band's tour of Iraq.
"We wanted to come and show respect and honor to those that deserve it the most, the Soldiers. And I mean that sincerely," said Scannell. "Our military is out here serving and sacrificing. We wanted to allow you to sit back, relax and let someone else do the work. For us, it was just our humble offering, a little bit of music and levity, to allow you to have a good time," he said.
In a twist of typical concert protocol, the show was capped by the band's heartfelt "standing ovation" directed to those in attendance.
"Please sit and let us applaud you for your service," shouted Scannell over a microphone. "As far as we're concerned you are the most important people from the United States. We're so happy to be able to celebrate this Fourth of July holiday week with you. There isn't anywhere else we'd want to be right now. Thank you!"