News: Music and military make for Mormino matrimony
Story by Larry Stevens
FORT McPHERSON, Ga. - The recruiter never mentioned that joining an Army band might lead to a wedding band, but that's what happened for Sgt. Paul Mormino and Sgt. Demetra Mormino of College Park, Ga.
While the two Army Ground Forces Band Soldier-musicians' motives to enlist were similar — a steady job that allowed them to make a living playing music and serve their country --, it took them a while to meet up and match up.
Paul Mormino, the horn section leader and a training non-commissioned officer for the AGFB, is originally from Memphis, Tenn. He started playing the horn in junior high school and decided in high school that he wanted to play for a living. That decision led to his earning his bachelor of arts in music education from the University of Southern Mississippi.
He joined the Army in 2003 and managed to get assigned to Fort Knox, Ky., in order to be near his then-girl-friend.
Demetra Mormino (nee Bastas), the AGFB's flute section leader, jazz vocalist and finance NCOIC, was born in California but moved with her parents when she was 18-months old to Greece, where they lived until she was nine years old.
"My first encounter with music was when I was eight and played piano for a year," she recalls. "I gave up the piano lessons when we moved from Greece to Pella, Iowa. But I started playing flute as a hobby when I was 11, and I've been playing ever since."
Indeed, she took her bachelor of music in flute performance at Drake University in 2002 and her master of music in flute performance at Miami University in 2004.
Then she joined the Army in 2004 and managed to get assigned to Fort Knox, Ky., in order to be near her then-boy-friend.
By the time Demetra arrived at Fort Knox, Paul and his girl friend had split up. The same happened to Demetra and her boy friend as well.
"We were just friends for a few months. Then we decided to start dating," said Paul as Demetra noded agreement. "Not only was she cute, but we had so much in common musically. We'd both auditioned with high scores. We could talk music and military together. We really enjoy and care about what we do."
He re-enlisted in 2006 in order to be re-assigned to the prestigious Army Ground Forces Band here.
They got married New Year's Eve of 2006, and she transferred to the AGFB in early 2007. Another indication that their nuptials were meant to be was that it turned out one of the priests at the Greek Orthodox Church in Marietta, Ga., had been her priest back in Iowa.
So what's it like being married and working for the same outfit?
"Well, it's almost like having two different jobs that we commute to and from together," Paul said. "We play in different ensembles that have different schedules and may require one of us to be away while the other stays home. The only times we rehearse and perform together are when the full concert band has a mission."
"And we have non-musician, Army duties," Demetra said. "He works in the training section, and I'm in finance. So, we don't even sit together in the same office."
When off duty, they enjoy hiking and biking, hanging out with their rat terrier, Ski, and reading (him history, her fiction). She also gardens at their home in College Park, and he has recently gotten into photography.
Another thing about being part of the Army band program they enjoy is going out on "education outreach programs" — or recruiting tours.
"We talk with high school and college students about the opportunities available to them in the Army," Paul said. "We encourage them to finish college first, so their standards will be the highest. Then they should look at the Army. It can be really appealing when they think about the thousands of people graduating with music degrees while the job field is shrinking."
"We've seen it happen pretty often that someone signs up for three years, finds it satisfying and stays in," Demetra observes. "Most of what they do is music. They get to associate with so many people who are talented in so many ways. They have financial security."
And another benefit is — although the recruiter doesn't mention it -- they just might meet their perfect mate to marry.