CAMP NATHAN SMITH, AFGHANISTAN
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan – A standard day in the life of a soldier sometimes feels like it lasts a lifetime. In an environment where minutes feel like hours, there’s always something, or someone, who has the ability to set time back on track.
Sgt. William Keith Pope, imagery analyst assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 1st Special Troops Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, uses his downtime to tour different offices at Camp Nathan Smith in order to sing to his fellow soldiers while he plays guitar.
When not working hours as an imagery analyst, or sorting the 2,000 pounds of mail he receives each week and dispensing it to multiple locations, Pope said he still has a little time in the day to relax and play music for those he works with.
Pope said he plays guitar in order to provide people a distraction from the daily grind of work. He said his music gives people a chance to take a break during the day and to have a little fun.
“I was inspired to start playing the guitar when I went to a Tim McGraw concert at 16-years-old,” said the Olivia, N.C. native. “I could always sing, so I thought that if I could also play the guitar, then I could start writing my own music.”
A little while after the concert, Pope said he bought a guitar of his own and practiced until he was able to play songs. After he accomplished his goal, he took his newfound talent and combined it with singing to start a band.
Pope said his band could never drum up enough fans or get gigs to keep it going, so whenever he and his friends got together to play, it turned out to be more of a hobby than anything else.
Country music is the main genre Pope likes to play, but he also plays covers of "oldies" and turns rap and hip-hop songs into country counterparts.
“In addition to country, I also like to play funny songs,” said Pope. “When I play my songs, if I can get just one chuckle, I know I’ve accomplished my mission.”
Pope composes original songs, such as the “Cheeseburger Song,” and “Lollipop Song,” which he plays for people on his office tours.
“Pope comes by the office every once in a while, picks up my guitar and sings to us and anyone else who happens to walk by,” said Spc. Darrell Milam, forward signal support non-commissioned officer, assigned to HHD, 1st STB, 1st BCT, 4th Inf. Div.
“Honestly, to understand how much of a morale booster his performances bring, you have to actually be there to hear him play his ‘Lollipop Song,’” said Milam. “You won’t leave in a bad mood.”
Even though he considers playing music to be more for fun, Pope said he hopes to one day be known for his music.
“I believe there’s a song in everything, you just need the inspiration to hear that song so you can pass it on to others,” said Pope.
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This work, Office musician fine-tunes soldiers' morale, by SPC Nathan Thome, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.