News>U.S., Russian Air Forces Celebrate Cosmonaut Day
Airmen from the Transit Center at Manas enjoy the AFCENT Band Wild Blue Country along with members of the Russian military from nearby Kant Air Base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Daniel Nathaniel III)
Technical Sgt. Stephen Brannen shakes hands with a member of the Russian military from Kant Air Base after AFCENT Band Wild Blue Country's performance at the Kant House of Culture. (U.S. Air Force photo by Daniel Nathaniel III)
Technical Sgt. Jeff Valentine show some students "the sound of country music"....the Steel Guitar, after AFCENT Band Wild Blue Country's performance at the Kant House of Culture. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Karl Bradley)
A spontaneous moment between Airmen from the Transit Center at Manas and a Russian military member from Kant Air Base after AFCENT Band Wild Blue Country's performance at the Kant House of Culture. (U.S. Air Force photo by Daniel Nathaniel III)
Members from U.S. & Russian military pause for a special moment after AFCENT Band Wild Blue Country's performance at the Kant House of Culture. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Daniel Nathaniel III)
by Master Sgt. Karl Bradley and Tech. Sgt. Tim Stombaugh
4/13/2011 - KANT, Kyrgyzstan -- The quaint village of Kant is home to a very special House of Culture. This 450 seat theatre has old-world charm with humble accommodations for concert-goers and performers alike. On this day, April 4, a foreign group of musicians are preparing for a concert to commemorate the anniversary of Russian Cosmonaut Day.
As the peformance begins, Tech. Sgt. Stephen Brannen, AFCENT Band NCOIC, reviews an article detailing Juri Gagarin's first human space voyage on April 12, 1961. "It was such an amazing feat... the Russian space program set an unprecedented record that day. We are honored to be performing here in celebration of this historic day."
The U.S. Embassy to Kyrgyzstan hosted the event and extended an invitation to the nearby Russian Air Base in Kant. To everyone's surprise, a delegation of Russian military members showed up to enjoy the performance and sat next to U.S. Air Force members stationed at the Transit Center at Manas. After some opening remarks, Wild Blue Country launched into a concert featuring classic and contemporary country selections, pausing occasionally to site the importance and relevance of Cosmonaut Day.
"Today was huge for improving our (U.S. and Russian) relationship," said Maj. John Elolf, 376th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs.
Wild Blue Country continued to bond with the audience by telling stories through the emotional impact of their music about the cowboy, surviving hard times and cherishing family and friends.
The commander of the 376th AEW, Col. Dwight C. Sones said, "We've been extending invitations to the local Russian military for quite some time now... after the concert today, they've now invited our Airmen to participate in an upcoming sporting event... your concert truly made a difference."
Events such as this are often a conduit for building international relationships. One of the attendees of the concert was a public school librarian from a village just outside Kant. She insisted on getting one of the interpreters to speak with the band after the show.
"Thank you so very much for sharing your music. It was wonderful and makes me very happy. I live a very tough life and this (music) makes me want to live longer," she said.