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Gift of Music
Members of the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Honor Guard present the colors during the Air Force Entertainment Group’s “A Gift of Music,” performance in Southwest Asia, Dec. 26, 2013. Prior Tops In Blue members make up the AFEG who performed 15 shows in 10 locations worldwide during the holiday season. The 379th AEW was the final stop of the 2013 holiday tour for the 29 volunteers who are prior service, active duty, guard and reserve Airmen. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Hannah Landeros)
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Gift of music overseas

Posted 12/27/2013   Updated 12/27/2013 Email story   Print story


by By Senior Airman Hannah Landeros
379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

12/27/2013 - SOUTHWEST ASIA -- Prior Tops In Blue members of the Air Force Entertainment Group gathered together for a 2013 holiday tour overseas, bringing holiday cheer to service members, coalition forces and contractors at the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing.

Following practices that began in mid-November, the tour kicked off with a performance at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, and ends here at the 379th AEW. With the theme, "A Gift of Music," this year's performance will include a range of music genres including country, top 40, rhythm and blues and patriotic.

"We specifically selected the performers and technicians for this tour, all of whom are past Tops In Blue performers," said Jerilynn White, Air Force Entertainment Group production manager. "We didn't have a lot of time to prepare for this year's tour, so we chose people with first-hand knowledge of how this program works, people who know the standards and what it takes to build a great show."

The performers spend more than 12 hours a day perfecting vocal skills, choreography, instrumentals and staging requirements. When they are not practicing on stage, they work together off stage rehearsing additional sets.

"Performers must rise early every day to manage their daily routines, work out and rehearse, which generally runs until 9 or 10 at night," said Edward Jones, performance director and vocalist. "In addition to rehearsals, military members had to manage their time efficiently to ensure they completed all the necessary training requirements before heading overseas."

The performers forfeited holidays with their own families in order to provide entertainment for the troops overseas who also would be unable to spend the season with loved ones. While most TIB members are active-duty Air Force and Air Force Guard and Reserve Airmen, a handful of them are retired or separated Airmen.

"I love the program and what it stands for," said Godfrey Smith, Air Force Entertainment Group pianist. "It is nice to have the opportunity to give something back to the troops serving overseas. They gave up time with their families to support the country, so why shouldn't I give up time with my family to give them a little piece of home?"

The Air Force Entertainment Group performed 15 shows in 10 locations across Southwest Asia during the holiday season.

Staff Sgt. Ian Hoachlander contributed to this story.

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