Military News
AWOL brings the Thunder to FOB Lightning
By Army Sgt. Richard D. Sherba, 11th Public Affairs Detachment
Apr 29, 2012 - 7:26:36 PM


Blackanthem Military News
Servicemembers at Forward Operating Base Lightning jump with Sgt. Jennifer Champagne, vocalist for Aggression Without Limit, a rock band within the 1st Infantry Division Army Band, during their performance April 27. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Richard D. Sherba, 11th Public Affairs Detachment)
PAKTYA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – If you were to ask a servicemember stationed at Forward Operating Base Lightning what their plans were for a Friday night, the typical response might be, “there are no weekends when deployed.”

All that changed, at least for one night, when Aggression Without Limit, a rock band within the 1st Infantry Division Army Band, flew into FOB Lightning April 27.  AWOL not only brought guitars, drums, keyboards, microphones and speakers, but they also brought a Friday night with them as well.

“It felt like a Friday night, almost like a club scene,” said U.S. Army Pfc. Arick Brown, Operations Company, Division Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 1st Infantry Division.  “They played popular music.  Music that is in, so to speak, and had everybody dancing.”

AWOL’s mission is to travel throughout Afghanistan performing at various FOBs and combat outposts entertaining troops and boosting morale.

“It was something the FOB needed, it was something the FOB hasn’t had for years,” said U.S. Army 1st Sgt. Nelson Gamio, Ops. Co., DHHB, 1st ID and FOB Lightning’s First Sergeant.  “It wasn’t just about the Soldiers, and the Airman, and the Sailors that are here but the contractors that work here and the locals who support the FOB, who’ve been here for years.”

“Maybe somebody was needing [AWOL’s performance] to feel free for a little bit,” said Gamio.  “Those little small things that make you feel at home, or can let you let loose, can make you feel alive sometimes.”

Let loose is exactly what the crowd did.

“We originally planned to play two 45 minute sets, but everyone was having so much fun that we combined them and played one big set,” said U.S. Army Sgt. Gunnar Kallstrom, guitar player for AWOL.

“They [the crowd] yelled for an encore, and we actually didn’t have one ready so we kicked into a techno style funk jam and they [the crowd] loved it.  That’s when everyone went crazy and started dancing,” said Kallstrom.

AWOL, which is a rock band, played a wide variety of music for the crowd at FOB Lightning; ranging from modern rock, classic rock, country, R&B, alternative rock, and pop.

“We try to play a little bit of everything so everyone in our audience will enjoy it,” explained Kallstrom.

Song after song, the crowd and the band seemed to feed off each other’s energy, intensifying both the night and the atmosphere.
 
“This is easily the best gig I’ve played,” said U.S. Army Spc. Reese Flory, keyboard player for AWOL.
 
“[Tonight] was just mind blowing, awesome,” said Flory. “I changed careers to join the Army, and I changed it because I wanted to get out and actually do something with music, and tap into how to make people feel better.”

The crowd at FOB Lightning showed their appreciation for AWOL during and after the show.

“We go out [on mission] pretty much everyday.  After we started having fun, it just completely took my mind off that. I didn’t even think that I was in Afghanistan,” said U.S. Army Pfc. Christopher Hurley, Ops. Co., DHHB, 1st ID.

“Everybody needs motivation here and there, and the motivation might not be the music. It might be the reaction to those Soldiers having fun with that music,” said Gamio. “That’s what helps, that’s what makes you feel good.”

AWOL band members were just as appreciative of the crowd at FOB Lightning.
 
“This audience here, and this place, is great. I did a year in Iraq doing the same thing, rock band tours around the theater, and this was one of the best shows I have done.  That’s because the support, the hospitality and audience were awesome,” said U.S. Army Sgt. David Champagne, drum player for AWOL.

ADDITIONAL PHOTO:

 
Aggression Without Limit, a band within the 1st Infantry Division Army Band, performed a concert at Forward Operating Base Lightning April 27. AWOL, which is a rock band, played a wide variety of music for the crowd at FOB Lightning ranging from modern rock, classic rock, country, R&B, alternative rock, and pop. AWOL’s mission is to travel throughout Afghanistan entertaining troops and boosting morale. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Richard D. Sherba, 11th Public Affairs Detachment)