MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. -- More than 1,700 members of the local community packed the air station theater Friday for the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing Band Christmas Concert.
Maj. Gen. Glenn M. Walters, commanding general of 2nd MAW, welcomed the patrons. He said he couldn’t imagine a better way to usher in the holiday season than with “the best band in the Marine Corps.”
And with that, the band began the show. The concert featured traditional songs like “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” Staff Sgt. Terri Kopetzki and Gunnery Sgt. Jeff Frank sang a duet of “Baby its Cold Outside.”
Near the end of the concert, the band unveiled a holiday remix of John Philip Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever.” Chief Warrant Officer 3 Benjamin Bartholomew, the band’s director, warned the audience that the popular military melody had been a bit rough during rehearsals, as many in the band were in the holiday spirit.
As the band played the tune, they spliced familiar holiday melodies into the military song, to the audience’s amusement.
The band wrapped up the upbeat performance with some rock ‘n’ roll with a Trans Siberian Orchestra song complete with electric guitars. As the standing room only-size audience filed out of the theater, Bartholomew beamed with pride.
“How could I be anything but proud?” he asked rhetorically.
Bartholomew said the concert was the band’s largest performance for the local community, and they relished the opportunity to share in the holiday spirit with a community that has enjoyed a proud partnership with 2nd MAW for more than 70 years.
“We always strive to be the best U.S. Marine Corps the people want us to be,” Bartholomew said. “Whatever expectations they have about Marines, we want to meet or exceed those expectations.”
The Christmas spirit and the spirit of community partnership was evident Friday night, as Toys for Tots donation boxes overflowed in the theater’s lobby.
Lance Cpl. Katherine J. Chang, a student at the Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training Marine Unit Cherry Point, volunteered to collect donations. The young Marine said she views her duty to serve her community as equal to her duty to her country.
“It’s good to see the people come out and give to children who are less fortunate during Christmas time,” Chang said. “I’m really surprised at just how many donations we have received.”
Walters thanked the audience for their donations to the Toys for Tots program, and also mentioned a new way for the community to help those in need over the holidays.
The 2012 Cherry Point Angel Tree Program is a method for anonymous donation of Christmas gifts to children of Cherry Point Marines and Sailors. Patrons of the Marine Corps Exchange and Troop stores simply select an ornament from Angel trees set up at those locations. They then fulfill the gift wish printed on the ornament with a gift that should not exceed $25. Gifts should be returned to the service counters at those respective locations, which will deliver them to the appropriate units.
For a community as well-connected as the one at Cherry Point and a Christmas spirit as strong as that on display here Friday night, there is little doubt this community will band together over the holidays.