News: From maneuver to melody: A Falcon in the chorus
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - As he bent to sing to the crowd, a roar of cheers erupted from the audience. A smooth, soothing voice with a bit of a country accent filled the arena. The young sergeant stood with the microphone held firmly in his hand. He was dressed in his fitted service uniform shining with ribbons and medals, his shiny black jump boots on his feet, and a maroon beret on his head. The paratrooper, with a smile on his face and the spotlight shining on him, serenaded the crowd of the Carolina Hurricanes hockey fans with the song, “Stand By Me.” For Sgt. Jonathon Melton, an infantryman with the 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, joining the All-American Chorus has given him the chance to do for the Army what he has enjoyed doing most of his life.
“I’ve been singing since I was a baby,” said Melton. “I have always loved music.”
His passion for singing has made him a baritone and soloist with the All-American Chorus. After returning from a deployment to Iraq, Melton got word that the chorus was looking to add some new members to the group.
“When I first got there, I sang to the director of the chorus,” said Melton. “ I sang ‘Simple Man’ to him.”
The director was blown away.
“He told me that he definitely wanted me on the chorus,” said Melton.
Melton said the next few weeks after being selected was hard for him as he strove to learn a variety of new lyrics and music. Performing with the chorus wasn’t always easy for the young singer. Melton recalls his first trip with the chorus also becoming his first solo performance.
“I was sweating; my palms were sweating,” said Melton. “ I was forgetting lyrics to the songs. I had to make some up off the top of my head on the spot.”
Like many other things in life, practice makes perfect. Melton now performs as a soloist in many different events, including military balls, ceremonies and local events in the community. Melton says that he enjoys traveling to perform with the group, and the treatment that they receive is something he enjoys the most. Even though the Paratrooper has been away from the “line company” for some time now, he hasn’t let go of the friends he made while serving with the Red Falcons.
“I still hang out with a lot of them,” he said.
“We have cookouts a lot of the time. Some of them ask me when I’m coming back. My old chain of command didn’t want me to leave. They still call me from time to time asking me to come back.”
Melton says that being in the chorus has been more relaxing, but it has also made him into an even more well-disciplined soldier. Paratroopers in the chorus spend much of their time in the spotlight, performing in front of civilians and service members, military officials and in front of myriad audiences. A small uniform issue can prevent a member from performing on stage.
“I’m definitely more mature because I haven’t had a choice,” he explains. “You either have to grow up and or you get sent back to your unit. I’ve learned from a lot of the noncommissioned officers here. They have been through a lot of different things.”
Melton says he will take those lessons and apply them to his role as a leader when he returns to the infantry. He is also thankful to have the support of his friends and family.
“My family loves that I’m in the chorus,” he said. “My wife was happy when I joined. She supports whatever I do. I am proud to say that I am in the chorus. I’m happy that I did this. I will never forget being in the chorus.”
Melton plans to stay in the Army for 20 years. Last November, he reenlisted and received an assignment to Germany, where he will return to being an infantryman.
“I’m really looking forward to going back,” said Melton.
Although he is going back to the infantry, he won’t stop doing the thing he loves.
“I love singing and I’m good at it,” said Melton. “If I come back to the 82nd, I’m probably going to try to be in the chorus again. I could possibly be the next noncommissioned officer in charge.”