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News > The 572nd Air Force band sings their way into Kyrgyz children's hearts
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Sirocco performs at the Najesda Center Orphanage in the Kyrgyz Republic
MANAS AIR BASE, KRYGYZ REPUBLIC--Staff Sgt. Reginald Coleman, vocalist with the Air Forces Central Band "Sirocco," gives special attention to the young audience during a performance at the Najesda Center Orphanage in the Kyrgyz Republic Capitol of Bishkek. The band was on a ten day tour to Manas AB where they played at eight schools, villages and orphanages as well as at the U.S. Embassy and on base. (Air Force photo / Senior Master Sgt. Patrick J. McCracken)
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The 572nd Air Force band sings their way into Kyrgyz children's hearts

Posted 8/18/2008   Updated 11/14/2008 Email story   Print story


by Senior Master Sgt. Patrick J. McCracken
376th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

8/18/2008 - MANAS AIR BASE, KYRGYZ REPUBLIC -- The Air Force Central Command band "Sirocco" brought a batch of songs and a pleasurable performance that left a trail of smiles across little faces at the Najesda Center Orphanage in Bishkek, Aug. 12.

The 11-person band visited the orphanage as a part of a ten-day trip to Manas, which included multiple performances at villages, hospitals and other orphanages in the local Kyrgyz communities. They are from the 572nd Air Force Band, also known as the Air National Guard Band of the Smoky Mountains.

The children greeted the band's bus with waves and smiles as it pulled into the center's austere courtyard. After greetings of hugs and handshakes, the children scurried to set up benches and chairs to create a makeshift theater while the band unloaded and set up their sound equipment. Their faces were gleaming with anticipation as the band tuned guitars, tested microphones and played short saxophone riffs until everything came together in the first song.

As in most of Sirocco's off base concerts, the children initially sat polite and quiet, not knowing what to expect during this private concert, until Staff Sgt. Reggie Coleman pulled some of them up to the improvised stage and started dancing with them. Once the ice was broken, the Kyrgyz youth danced and sang along in the few key words of English that they picked up on. They were given maracas, tambourines and even cow bells so they could play along to the music, which they did with enthusiasm.

"Coming over here to perform for these children and the local Kyrgyz people is an amazing opportunity for someone as young as me and it is something I will remember the rest of my life," said 19-year-old 572nd Band guitarist and vocalist, Airman 1st Class Matthew Adams.

The band entertained not only the Najesda Center children, but also many other youngsters from the surrounding neighborhoods who trickled in to enjoy the hour-long show. As they wrapped up, they were showered with accolades by the center staff and neighborhood parents for their talent and - more importantly - the generous helping of joy they shared with the youngsters.

The performance at Najesda was followed by Mrs. Tatyana Tsybenko, the center's manager, offering chai tea, watermelon and an assortment of local pastries, which the tired band gladly accepted with a smile. Mrs. Tsybenko proudly offered a tour of the aged but extremely well maintained facility where she showcased the individual attention given to each child, the projects that have been completed by Manas Airmen and all the things that still need attention on future visits.

Manas Air Base is extremely involved in the local community and many of its units adopt local villages, schools and orphanages such as the Najesda Center, which has been adopted by the Manas "Top Three" organization of senior enlisted personnel. Senior Master Sgt. Tony Phillips, vice president of the Top Three, was on hand during the performance and took advantage of the opportunity to present the center's manager with a donation check for $300, which will pay for transporting many of the children to Lake Issyk-Kul for a much anticipated vacation.

"We are not leaving for another week, but the children are so excited about the trip that they have been packed for the past two weeks," said Mrs. Tsybenko.

Senior Master Sgt. Hilary Walton, band superintendent, whose adopted son was born in the Ukraine, was particularly moved by the visit.

"It's wonderful how well the children are treated and how they genuinely care for their well being at places like the Najesda Center," said Sergeant Walton.

According to band members, the entire day was a resounding success for the band and certainly will make for pleasant memories for the orphanage's children. Memories the band hopes these kids will hold onto for years to come.

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