HOLLY, Michigan –
The Air Force rock band, Flight One from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, joined forces with local Detroit recruiters and an Air Force Recruiting Service blitz team at local schools for three days filled with concerts and information about joining the Air Force from Nov. 15-18, 2022.
The band built into the schedule a 45-minute question-and-answer session with the high school jazz band, played a 40-minute interactive rock concert, and even entertained an impromptu “Thriller”-style dance with a few students from the audience.
“This gives the students a chance to see what the life of a professional musician is like,” said Ben Baldwin, Holly High School band director. “For my students, this gives them the opportunity to combine service and music. I did it when I was in the U.S. Marine Corps band and this gives them the exposure to something like that.”
During the time with the jazz band students, Tech. Sgt. Andrew Clemmons, drummer, fielded a question about better ways to practice keeping time. He responded with a demonstration on using a metronome to practice and offered tips of the trade to make a boring metronome come alive.
The seven-member rock band that boasted an Air Force retiree on vocals shook the high school stadium of 350 students by giving a world-class performance that opened doors for discussions about many programs the military has to offer to interested students.
“We want to provide the students an opportunity to come up to us and talk with us without any pressure,” said Tech. Sgt. Joe Whitt, music director and bass guitar player. “We love when they ask us questions about recruiting, what military life is like, and what options there are.”
During the band’s high energy performance, students were invited to the floor and were led in a group dance that finished when one student outperformed others by ending his dance by performing “the worm” floor dance move.
“This is a great school and a great area, but that does not mean that these students want to stay here when they graduate. We are here to let them know that they can go talk to a recruiter and they are empowered to say ‘no’ if they find they are not interested,” said Whitt. “[The students] may not know that just talking to someone about the military doesn’t mean they have to commit to joining.”
As part of the concert, Airman 1st Class Christopher Arellano, guitarist, sat among the students while playing his guitar behind his back and then quickly made his way to the other side of the gym to join Master Sgt. Greg Pfluch, saxophonist, where the two had a musical battle amongst the audience.
Opening doors and taking first steps to having tough conversations about life changing decisions is what the Air Force band is designed to do. Using music as a common language denominator helps start these tough conversations between a curious high school student and an active-duty service member that could otherwise be too intimidating for the student to even start.
The main goal of the three-day recruiting blitz was to bring information about the Aim High Flight Academy program, provide insight to Air Force commissioning programs and the enlistment process to students in and around the Detroit area. Using the band was just one additional key to help unlock the possibilities found in the Air Force and a way to start having conversations about those options.
For more information about the Aim High Flight Academy visit www.recruiting.af.mil/about-us/AHFA.