AFCENT Band brings holiday cheer to Afghanistan

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Jake McCray
  • AFCENT Band
The Air Forces Central Command Band “Pegasus” recently finished a 26-day tour through Afghanistan during the month of December, the longest ever by an Air Force band.

Throughout the tour, the band performed for more than 7,000 U.S. and coalition troops on four installations and 1.3 million on radio. They also had the honor to perform at the ISAF Joint Command and 18th Airborne Corps Colors Lowering and Casing Ceremony, Dec. 8, symbolizing the end of the IJC mission.

Tech. Sgt. John Dawson, the band’s lead saxophone player, led the six person ensemble which supported the ceremony.

“It was a very momentous occasion,” said Dawson. “Merely being in attendance was humbling, and performing the anthems of our two countries back to back was such an honor.”

In addition to providing ceremonial support, the band provided much needed holiday cheer for troops during what can be a stressful time away from family and friends. The musicians in the band were able to improvise by utilizing various combinations of smaller groups to fit into small spaces for morale lifting support.

“When the AFCENT Band visited Bagram Airfield and their presence/performances were nothing short of holiday bliss,” said 1st Lt. Jeffrey Carper, Director of Operations, 455th Expeditionary Force Support Squadron and sponsor for the band’s appearance. “Their ability to adapt and mobilize anywhere allowed the team to visit many of our remote units that have specialized missions on Bagram. Without the band going to them, these units would not have been able to participate in the entertainment.”

Notably, the band had a chance to collaborate with local Afghan musicians as part of a national radio broadcast that reached over 1.3 million Afghan and Pakistani citizens. Before and after the radio show, the AFCENT musicians enjoyed music, food, and fellowship with the Afghans at the Afghan House at Kabul International Airport.

“The band was so proud to partner with Afghan musicians in a very special performance and experience the power of music being a bridge for cultural exchange,” said Master Sgt. Jason Crowe, the non-commissioned officer in charge of the Band,.

One of the band’s vocalists, Tech. Sgt. Krista Joyce also felt the collaboration was particularly memorable.

“In my own opinion, I've had some rather significant and unusual experiences in my 18 years as an Air Force bandsmen, and I would say that this experience is hands down one of the highlights,” she said.

The band’s final performance of the tour included performances on Christmas Day at Forward Operating Base Fenty, a remote camp in Jalalabad. Troops were treated to over six hours of music provided by the band along with gift giveaways. The final songs of that performance added a historic dimension to the tour as they coincided with the remaining days of Operation Enduring Freedom, which concluded after 13 years on Dec. 31.

Videos, pictures, and more stories about the AFCENT Band’s December 2014 tour can be seen on their website: http://www.afcent.af.mil/Units/AFCENTBand.aspx