City of Blue
By Capt. Matthew Mutti, Wing Executive Staff Officer, 104FW
/ Published September 13, 2008
BARNES AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Massachusetts -- On Aug 19th, the 'city of homes' became the 'city of blue,' as the Air Force Expeditionary entertainers performed for the communities of Western Massachusetts during their 150 show world tour.
Tops in Blue performs throughout the world to promote the Air Force, Guard and Reserves through entertainment and community interaction. The tour group was formed nearly 55 years ago and is now one of the most "high-demand" Air Force groups, second only to the Air Force Thunderbirds.
The team, comprised of 50 Airman from throughout the Combat Air Force, represent Active, Guard and Reserve units as well as 50 different Air Force career specialties. Their commander, Capt. Courtney Wallace is an Air Force nurse and serves as their lead vocalist.
What makes this team truly remarkable, is that they are not only talented performers, they embody the warrior ethos and serve as not only the entertainers, but also the set-up team, sound and stage support, truck drivers, and recruiters. When they arrive, they demonstrate the power of team work, and with very little resource or time, work to accomplish their mission.
The team rolls in with two trailer trucks and a bus eight hours before a show starts. They unpack, build their stages, sets-up the lighting, sound, instruments, then perform a 90 minute non-stop show. Immediately following the show, they teardown their stage, repack the trucks, sleep for 3-5 hours, then they get back on the road again for the next show.
The Springfield show was the last stop in a five show run which began seven days prior, but the team did not loose its drive...thanks in part to the tremendous volunteers from this base, and Westover. In all, nearly 25 members of our local total-force team worked to support this show, from Aerospace Ground Equipment to Civil Engineering, this show would not have gone on with out their help.
The volunteers from the base worked from their arrival at 1:00 p.m. on the 19th until the show was packed up at 5:00 a.m. on the 20th. The tremendous work from those volunteers was indispensable. At the end of the night, the performers entertained approximately 3,500 members of the community and left the city wanting more, but also thankful for the hard work and dedication of their backyard Air Force.