Deployed troops vibe to the beat of 'Tops in Blue'

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Eric Summers Jr.
  • 379th Air Expeditionary Wing
Members of the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing and partner units rocked to the various tunes of the U.S. Air Force's 'Tops in Blue,' July 22, at an air base here.

The world-traveling group of Airmen composed of 36 vocalists, musicians, dancers and technicians from different career fields throughout the Air Force, provided musical entertainment and a break from the heat and normal daily activities.

"I think it's really cool how they come out and entertain people and serve as a good stress breaker," said Cadet Kevin Ueunten, an Air Force Academy student here as part of the school's Deployed Operations program.

The group performed songs ranging from the early 1900s to the present day, showcasing the different genres and changes in music as part of their theme for the 2011 tour, "Rhythm Nation."

"I am enjoying it a lot," said 1st Lt. Anna Cichocki, from the Combined Air and Space Operations Center. "I like the variety of all the music and them going through all the big hits from over the years; ... I'm glad I came to the show."

Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Gordon Richards, a flight engineer with the VP10 Patrol Squadron, said he was able to see the show in 2009 and knew it was going to be a good show.

"I thought it was pretty cool. I liked the whole history of music," said Richards. "For these guys to do all of this is a lot of work. It's pretty remarkable and [they are] a solid group of individuals."

Before the show, 'Tops in Blue' members along with a handful of volunteers set up the stage and equipment to include the lights, audio system and microphones. Then directly following the show, they pulled it all down and packed up for the next leg of the tour. The group has been following this routine for the past ten days, performing eight shows at various locations to help boost the morale of deployed service members.

"At first I thought they were really up-playing this a lot," said Senior Airman Zachery Rayburn, a vocalist from Buckley Air Force Base, Colo., about his first trip to the area of responsibility. "But after we did the very first show in Kyrgyzstan and when we got off stage the first time and started shaking people's hands, with just real genuine heartfelt smiles, one guy said it was the best experience that he had in five months."

Senior Airman Kristina Overton, a vocalist from Misawa Air Base, Japan, said the best part about being with 'Tops in Blue' is giving back; being able to talk with different people and having a positive effect on their lives.

"We get to meet people on a regular basis ... being able to bring so much to other people," Overton said. "They tell you at the beginning that it's not easy and it's all about giving back. ... After (coming off stage), you get to meet people and they tell us how they loved the show, how we've (impacted) their lives and how it's going to affect them in the future, and I think that's the most powerful thing that this program offers."

"I like that they came to a deployed environment," Metts said. "I love seeing them in uniform because it shows that they are still regular Airmen like us."