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AFCENT Command Band 'Falcon' kicks off theater-wide tour

SOUTHWEST ASIA -- Senior Airman David Beasley, a bass guitar player with the U.S. Air Force Central Command Band called Falcon throws down a jam leaving the audience applauding for more during a May 15, 2008 performance at an air base in the Persian Gulf Region.  The Falcon Band recently kicked off a 60-day tour throughout Southwest Asia and the Horn of Africa to positively promote troop morale, diplomacy and outreach to host nation communities. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Michael Miller)

SOUTHWEST ASIA -- Senior Airman David Beasley, a bass guitar player with the U.S. Air Force Central Command Band called Falcon throws down a jam leaving the audience applauding for more during a May 15, 2008 performance at an air base in the Persian Gulf Region. The Falcon Band recently kicked off a 60-day tour throughout Southwest Asia and the Horn of Africa to positively promote troop morale, diplomacy and outreach to host nation communities. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Michael Miller)

SOUTHWEST ASIA -- The U.S. Air Force Central Command Band called Falcon recently kicked off a 60-day musical tour of duty to perform for U.S. and coalition forces and local citizens in each of the countries they'll be visiting.

Based in Southwest Asia, the Falcon Band is comprised of Airmen musicians from Offutt's U.S. Heartland of America Band. These dynamic musicians, whether they're in the states or in the deployed area of operations, their mission remains the same; to positively promote troop morale, diplomacy and outreach to host nation communities.

This current tour is scheduled to carry the 10-member band across seven countries throughout Southwest Asia and Horn of Africa.

"I feel I have the best job in the Air Force because I'm serving my country while doing what I love - playing music," said Master Sgt. Daniel Weber, a saxophonist from Alexandria, S.D. "When we play community relations concerts throughout the United States, I represent all of our military heroes who are fighting terrorism in far away places. Now that I'm deployed, I have the privilege of entertaining these heroes who are willing to give their lives here to prevent another 9/11 attack at home.

"Heroes like Army Staff Sgt. Gregg Wagner," said Master Sergeant Weber.

Sergeant Wagner of Mitchell, S.D., died May 8, 2006 of injuries sustained in Baghdad, Iraq, when an improvised fire projectile struck his vehicle during a combat operation.

"The troops here are sacrificing so much of the basic things we take for granted in the states," Master Sergeant Weber said. "When we play for them, we are able to give them a short break from their heavy duties and let them know everyone back home loves them and sends their thanks for protecting our way of life."

The other part of their duties while on tour is using the international language of music and song to help bridge the gap between cultures by playing for the local civilians of the countries their traveling through.

"This is a very important role for the band as it allows us to be in uniform around locals in a completely friendly and non-threatening environment," said Staff Sgt. Krista Joyce, a vocalist from Harleton, Texas. "Our hope is to influence the children ... looking to the future. If all the children see our soldiers with guns ... well, that is intimidating to say the least. We go in and through music, show them that we are friends and I think they're getting the message."

And delivering the message through entertainment is what it's all about, said the members of the band who performed all sorts of classics like 'American Pie, Sweet Home Alabama and Sweet Caroline,' as well as much more across the full spectrum of music.

"If I can uplift our troops' spirits so they can focus on their difficult and often dangerous jobs, I feel I have contributed to the defense of our great nation and world," said Senior Master Sgt. Jimmy Weber, a guitarist and vocalist from Alexandria, S.D., who's also the cousin of fellow musician Master Sergeant Weber currently on tour with him. "The thing I enjoy the most about performing is the feeling you get when someone tells you that your performance helped get them through a rough time in their life," Senior Weber said.

Following their show at a Southwest Asia air base recently several Airmen from the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing spent time talking to the band. They talked about how they became musicians and singers in the band and the type of instrument they play. They also thanked the musicians for their performance.

"I thought the band's overall performance was great!" said Senior Master Sgt. Jennifer Ostrander, the 586th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron first sergeant deployed from the 345th Recruiting Squadron. "Anytime you can perform Evananesence, Bruce Springsteen, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Taylor Swift, the B-52s and Big and Rich, you know you have a talented group of performers.

"I sat in awe watching the sax player, trumpet and of course, the guitarist," said Sergeant Ostrander.

As it would turn out, Sergeant Ostrander and Senior Weber attended the Air Force Senior NCO Academy together in 2005.

"Just about every weekend, we had our own 'Jimmy Weber Unplugged' show either at the base NCO club or out at the clock tower," said Sergeant Ostrander. "After the show, we were able to catch up, and it was apparent as ever, that he truly loves what he does.

"He's a real life example of the saying, 'Do what you love and love what you do, and you'll never work another day in your life,'" said Sergeant Ostrander. "I found out how much it means to him to be able to travel around the AOR performing for the troops, but also how much he treasures being able to play for the third country national civilians working on the base and for those in the communities of the countries he's visiting. He tries to use his music to help bridge the gap between our countries."

When it's all said and done, it's all about the audience said the members of the AFCENT Falcon band.

"The bottom line is 'A happy force is an effective force,'" said Senior Airman Patrick Brush, a trumpet and keys player from Billings, Mont. "That's our contribution to the men and women in uniform."