By U. S. Division-North Public Affairs OfficeJuly 12, 2010
Contingency Operating Base Speicher, Iraq - Task Force Marne Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines were given a morale boost by the Airmen of Tops in Blue at Contingency Operating Base Speicher, July 10. Tops in Blue is an Air Force entertainment unit made of amateur performers from the Air Force's active duty ranks.
The evening was filled with singing and dancing as Tops in Blue performed songs from the 1970s to today that revolved around the theme for this year's show, "We Believe."
"Basically, with everything that is going on right now, we are trying to show everyone to believe in themselves, and that we believe in - and support - them," said Air Force Staff Sgt. Chonte Walker, an emergency management journeyman with the 2nd Civil Engineer Squadron, out of Barksdale Air Force Base, La., and Tops in Blue performer.
During the performance, the cast was not restricted to the stage; they spent a fair amount of time off the stage and close to the audience, at times even intermingling with them. On two occasions, they even brought audience members up to the stage to be serenaded.
Tops in Blue is a completely self-contained unit; their 36 members must take care of the day-to-day mission requirements in addition to performing during their year-long tour of approximately 140 shows.
"We are our own roadies, we do all the setup and tear down for the shows," said Air Force Staff Sgt. Walker, who is a native of St. Joseph, Mo. "In Tops in Blue, we also have other jobs. For instance, I am the auditions and promotions manager. We also have people that are in charge of security, food, lodging and other things like that."
One performer has a very unique job - Senior Airman Adam Rideaux, a health services journeyman from the 341st Medical Group, Malmstrom AFB, Mont., and San Antonio, Texas, native - is a human beat box. He performed multiple songs by Michael Jackson to include Thriller, Smooth Criminal and Beat It, as fellow Airmen dressed in mime costumes did the dances from the music videos for the songs.
"The show was very uplifting," said Sgt. 1st Class Andrea Johnson, the operational law noncommissioned officer in charge for the TF Marne Staff Judge Advocate office, and a native of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. "I was surprised to see the quality of show that they can still provide in a combat zone. It was extraordinary."