News: Night Wing performs at FOB Salerno
Story by Spc. Eric-James Estrada
KHOWST PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Airmen with the U.S. Air Force Central band Night Wing performed at Forward Operating Base Salerno, Afghanistan, as part of their mission to continue building troop morale in a deployed environment.
While stateside, the work of an Air Force musician is generally filled with recruiting events and playing at various town festivals. The mission takes a new course when USAFCENT bands like Night Wing deploy to a combat zone
“Where the real work starts is when we have the opportunity to deploy, where we work on going to the different areas in the [area of responsibility] boosting troop morale,” said U.S. Air Force Airmen 1st Class Melissa Rager, USAFCENT band Night Wing, hailing from Garner, Iowa. “We also go out and perform at embassies and out in the community as part of building partnerships.”
The USAFCENT band Night Wing came to FOB Salerno as part of a tour of Afghanistan, to raise troop morale through their various genres of music that consist of rock and roll, pop and country.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to come out here and play for everybody. Not too many big names get to come through here. A lot of the FOB’s might be a little more difficult for entertainment to get to,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Richard Baisden, the non-commissioned officer in charge for USAFCENT band Night Wing, a native of San Antonio.
Baisden went on to talk about their constant travels to continue their mission of raising troop morale.
“We’re constantly on the road. Even when we’re back in the continental United States, we have a geographical area of responsibility that we tour the entire area. We’re pretty much constantly TDY,” said Baisden.
With enlistment comes the possibility of deployment, but due to the bands demanding travel schedule throughout the United States, this is their first tour to a combat zone like Afghanistan.
“I came in the band about three years ago and I was teaching school before that. And I knew full and well we were going to deploy, but the way the rotations have worked out, it’s all of our first deployment,” U.S. Air Force Senior Airmen Ryan Rager, USAFCENT band Night Wing, from South Sioux City, Neb.
The band takes great pride in the fact that their performances are bringing a little sense of relief and the joys of home to troops who left their homes to travel to the other side of the world and defend their country.
“We’ve heard things like for 90 minutes I wasn’t deployed. I was back home. I was at my town festival. I was drinking beer and eating hot dogs in the middle of summer. And getting a chance to take that them away from that for a little bit, that means a lot,” said Melissa Rager.