News: Donations come with strings attached
Story by Senior Master Sgt. Eric Peterson
SOUTHWEST ASIA - A shipment of 18 brand-new acoustic guitars arrived in perfect working condition to the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing at the undisclosed location in Southwest Asia June 4, 2014.
The guitars were donated by a United States musical instrument retailer to the members of the 380th AEW. The unconditional gift to the wing was reviewed and approved for its propriety by the wing staff judge advocate prior to the acceptance of the guitars.
The legal officer has since redeployed and was unable to witness the arrival of the instruments.
“I couldn’t be happier that we made this happen,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Christopher Morgan. “I am slightly disappointed that I wasn’t there to see it come to fruition, but it was a very nice note on which to end my deployment.”
Chapel staff and mental health office members unboxed and inventoried the guitars shortly after they were delivered.
Senior Airman Jeremy Cole was the first to try out his guitar-playing skills on the new instruments. He pulled a red-colored guitar out of the box, tuned each of the six strings and began strumming chord progressions.
“They played well, right out of the box,” said Air Force Maj. Benjamin Carter, clinical psychologist and chief of the mental health clinic. “My assistant (Cole) got a chance to play, and he did a pretty good job.”
Plans are now being developed to make the new guitars available for use by all interested military service personnel at the wing.
“I was asked to help make a distribution plan with other supporting agencies for the well-being of our Airmen and Soldiers,” said 380th AEW chaplain Lt. Col. Elizabeth Harris-Lamkin.
A number of the guitars will be distributed to the community activities center, the mental health office and to the Army battalions on base. Several guitars will remain at the chapel to be used in services and to be made available for check out.
“This is particularly timely because we were just talking about the need for alternative activities for people who have different skills and talents, who may not enjoy basketball or sitting by the pool necessarily,” said Carter. “The opportunity to work on those talents is something that helps achieve some balance while you’re deployed and away from some of the other beneficial things that you might be participating in back home.”
Guitar classes may even be offered if instructors can be found to teach the guitar basics to any of the aspiring musicians on base.
“We have many folks who are accomplished musicians, so we are going to exploring who may be available to offer some beginning guitar lessons,” said Harris-Lamkin.