Band member returns from deployment

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Stephanie Schmitt
  • 131 Bomb Wing
Staff Sgt. Angie Long, 571st Air Force Band of the Central States vocalist, recently returned from her fourth in-theater deployment.

"When someone leans forward for the fourth [deployment] and says 'Yes, I will go in harm's way to boost the morale of the troops,' I think that is one of the best force multipliers that we can have," said Capt. John Arata, 571st AF Band of the Central States commander. "She has a unique perspective because she has been doing [Air Expeditionary Force] deployments from the beginning of the Global War on Terror."

Her most recent deployment was part of the Air Force Central Command's Sonora band, which traveled to multiple locations across Southwest Asia.

The 10 member band traveled for 30 days and performed two one-hour sets at each location, giving the troops some well deserved down time that allowed them to smile and enjoy themselves, if only for a couple of hours.

At one base there were over 45 different countries serving, which made for a distinctively diverse audience, explained Sergeant Long.

"We have such a large repertoire of songs, which helps us meet the needs of a broad audience," added Sergeant Long.

The range of music includes disco, country, rock, R&B, Motown, and pop. The band determines the play list prior to the performance but once they see the audience they may change things up. During one performance they realized the crowd was a little more conservative and current pop songs weren't going to work, so they started playing music from the 70's and 80's such as James Brown, the Doobie Brothers, Jimmy Buffett, and Lynrd Skynrd.

Shortly after September 11, 2001, while serving as an Operations Intelligence Analyst on active duty at Whiteman AFB, Sergeant Long was selected for Tops in Blue. This one year tour, with the Air Force's special unit of talented amateur performers, took her across the United States, outside the continental United States, and in-theater.

In 2006, Sergeant Long joined the Missouri Air National Guard in the detached unit of the former 131st Fighter Wing, currently 131st Bomb Wing.

Due to her four deployments Captain Arata said, "We have a huge advantage while preparing for our deployment next summer."

"I salute Sergeant Long for her bravery and for the excellence she has brought to our unit and the [Area of Responsibility]. She is certainly to be commended for her great service," added Captain Arata.