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Operation Enduring Freedom
BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan – Maj. Eric Patterson plays his trumpet while a young child pushes the pistons down during a visit to a children's cancer center here July 4. The Air Forces Central Command Band “Blue Hawk” visited Kyrgyzstan to help build troop morale and public diplomacy. Patterson is a trumpet player with the band from Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Matthew Smith)
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'Blue Hawk' shares music with Kyrgyz children

Posted 7/5/2011   Updated 7/5/2011 Email story   Print story


by Tech. Sgt. Tammie Moore
376th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

7/5/2011 - TRANSIT CENTER AT MANAS, Kyrgyzstan -- Airmen from the Air Forces Central Command Band "Blue Hawk" spent their afternoon bringing smiles to the faces of children at the Bishkek Children's Cancer Center July 4.

The fact that most of the people in the audience didn't speak English didn't hamper the mood; "Blue Hawk's" performance was able to bridge the language barrier.

"Music is one of those kinds of things that show us how much more alike we are than different. It transcends boundaries and we all respond to it," said Tech. Sgt. Lane McCray, Blue Hawk vocalist.

As the sounds of music began to drift down the hallway, more children, family members and hospital staff filled the room and clapped along to the beat.

"Once the music starts, that barrier is quickly overcome. People may not understand what you're saying, but they love the music and they love to participate," said Maj. Eric Patterson, commander of Blue Hawk.

Instead of an elaborate set-up, Blue Hawk toned down their performance for the children, getting closer to the audience and providing the children an opportunity to handle the instruments and join in on the fun.

This is what Ronna, the mother of a sick 4-year old, said she felt set Blue Hawk apart from other bands that have performed at the cancer center.

"Thank you for this performance," she said. "I liked everything, but the best part was that they gave these small instruments to the kids and it was real fun for them. These performers, they interacted with the children. We're glad that people like you come and entertain our kids."

The parents were not alone in their appreciation of the band member's performance.

"Thank you for playing for the kids and we'd like to invite you again," said Baizakova Damira Omurzakovna, the center director. "And we want you to come again and thank you very much for coming."

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