Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point (Dec. 9, 2011) --
Cymbals rasped and escalated into a slow joining drum thump, sprinkled by holiday bells with a reggae ring, for a jovial audience of more than 2,000 at the Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point Theater Dec. 9. The festive event was this year’s 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing Band Christmas Concert.
The audience of Marines, families and members of the community, ushered in by Toys-for-Tots gathering Marines, had just taken their seats, escaping the cool winter weather outside for the evening of music that featured a choir, three solo vocalists and the orchestra of the band.
“It’s about all of these people, it’s not about us,” said Staff Sgt. Brian C. McCartney, a trombone instrumentalist for the band. “It’s no sleigh ride. We pull out all of the stops just for Christmas.”
A big stop for the evening and a first for the band was the overall outreach of the concert, which could be seen on a live stream in Afghanistan, 7,000 miles away.
“That was the best part of the whole thing,” said Sgt. Maj. Susan M. Bellis, sergeant major of 2nd MAW. “Because they’re getting it done over there and we can’t forget them.”
Greetings from deployed 2nd MAW Marines also bridged the gap as they played on two big screens in the theater.
From Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Lt. Col. Thomas Gore, commanding officer of Marine Attack Squadron 223, greeted his wife, Abby, who was one of the nights vocal attractions.
“Good luck tonight honey,” he said. Abby came on stage with a swagger, singing her first song with a strong sentiment of being away from loved ones during the holidays.
“I just want you for my own, more than you could ever know,” sang Abby, from the song, “All I Want for Christmas is You.”
“The Marines are just such outstanding showmen,” said Kevin Connor of nearby New Bern, in the crowd with his wife, Simmons, and their four children.
“They look forward to it every year,” said Simmons of the couple’s children. “We think they should add a second show so more people could see it.”
For the band, the concert was a crescendo of weeks of preparations and rehearsals.
“It was nice to finally see a finished product,” said Cpl. Eric Shields, a French Horn instrumentalist with the band. “We had extra purpose tonight too; make the guys overseas feel a lot better about things because they don’t get to celebrate Christmas like we do.”