Staff Sgt. Bennett Weidemann: I'm Staff Sgt. Bennett Weidemann. I'm in the United States Air Force Band of Liberty, which is a section of a greater career field in the Air Force. I'm a professional drummer for the United States Air Force, and I also have some administrative duties that involve the music business with inside Air Force public affairs.
I was actually majoring in music in college. I was in my senior year, and I found out about an opening up here. The reputation of the Air Force Band programs is worldwide, and I knew that it was a great opportunity for me, so I auditioned up here at Boston in about 2001, and made the audition, went to Basic Training. After Basic Training, I came here, and I started my job.
I'm the tour manager currently for Afterburner. That's the name of our particular band, and Afterburner is just a rock band version of the Air Force Band of Liberty. What I usually tell people, and this is my own opinion, is that we're a cover band in military uniforms, so pretty much that's what the rock band does. Now our other ensembles do commission pieces, and we have a lot of other types of music like chamber music, and jazz and things like that.
The mission for the Air Force band is threefold. We do troop morale, which is something like we're doing today for the Coast Guard. We also do community relations, when we go out to state fairs and things like that. We also have a recruiting mission, but the troop morale mission has been special in the last few years, especially with both wars going on.
This band has had the opportunity to deploy to Southwest Asia twice. I went in 2004, and I also went in 2008, and our mission primarily over there is troop morale, but we also have an embassy mission as well. A lot of our bands have been used in embassies if there was a party or a social gathering going on between dignitaries, then we were there able to provide entertainment and help smooth the transition between the talks, so we're also a political tool in a lot of ways.
Whatever the mission is, whether it's war fighting or it's music, we all have one goal and one purpose. I just feel fortunate that I'm able to do something with music that benefits this country so much.