View Full Version : CH-46E mechanic carries rifle, guitar while deployed in support of OIF

06-24-03, 07:08 AM
CH-46E mechanic carries rifle, guitar while deployed in support of OIF
Submitted by: 3d Marine Aircraft Wing
Story Identification Number: 200362344255
Story by Sgt. M. P. Shelato

KUWAIT(June 7, 2003) -- All is not quiet in the "tent city" at an air base here in the evening. After working on and around aircraft all day in temperatures that can reach more than 120 degrees, many of the service members here take advantage of an evening breeze to socialize, play cards and watch other Marines go about their business.

Entertainment is hard to come by here - there are a few small portable televisions and several sets of playing cards and dominoes, but almost everyone has some type of portable radio, compact disc player or mp3 device. Music, it seems, is difficult for these troops to live without.

Each General Purpose tent in the tent city will often have its own type of music wafting through the tent fabric; the latest rap or hip-hop hit can be heard from one 'hooch,' country music blares from the next.

All of the music is loud enough to hear from a distance, but one musical sound somehow carries above the rest, as a Marine with an acoustic guitar plays a classic song that almost everyone within hearing range knows some of the words to.

Lance Cpl. Bobby E. George, aviation ordinance technician, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 165, has become proficient at strumming the guitar he has been playing for less than five years.

"I want to be a rock star some day," George said jokingly.

After considering George's personal history, the possibility of becoming a rock star may not sound too far-fetched. While just a teenager, George, said he would sneak into clubs and bars in Memphis to see and hear rock music legends. Encounters with members of famous rock and roll bands have inspired George to learn as much as he could about his chosen hobby.

"I would hang out with friends of mine that were in a band," George explained. "They got to open a show for Van Halen once and I got to meet members of the band. I was awestruck - I knew I wanted that life then."

Being from a musical family also influenced George, he said. His mother tried to teach him to play the piano when he was young, but George knew his interests where elsewhere.

"My uncle had a band that played a mix of rock and country (music)," said George. "They played a lot of seventies rock, so I grew up hearing Eric Clapton, Lynrd Skynrd and Aerosmith; I naturally learned to appreciate that type of music."

Since he has been deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, George has carried his guitar, along with his sea bags and other personal gear, from the USS Boxer to a forward operating base at Jalibah, Iraq and onto an airbase here, where he now plays almost nightly in front of the tent he lives in for crowds of passing Marines.

Several of the passing Marines have requests of their favorite songs for George to play. Though he has never actually read sheet music for any of the songs he plays, the budding musician can usually play a few "riffs" or chords his peers want to hear.

"I'm looking into taking classical guitar lessons when I get back home," said George. "I've run into a wall now as far as I can teach myself. It drives me crazy when I can hear a tune in my head and don't know how to play it."

At more than six-feet-tall, George seems to be a gentle giant, and is known as "Babyface" to the Marines in the "White Knight's" maintenance hangar. He is also older than most of his peers and is respected for the level of maturity he maintains.

"I've noticed he has some artistic talent," said Staff Sgt. Darryl T. Thompson, ordinance chief, HMM-165.

Thompson, who has known George for six months, said that George can be more responsible than a younger Lance Cpl. could be.

"When it comes to his weapons, (George) is really good and knows what he's doing," Thompson said. "He's in training to become a training (non commissioned officer) and has the bearing to be able to give classes to other Marines."

George has little difficulty conversing and getting along with those who ask him about his music. Almost always ready with his six-string, George said he is willing to "jam" with anyone willing to play or sing along.

"I even play better with other people playing along," George said. "It's not that difficult for me, I just love to follow the rhythm."


Lance Cpl. Bobby E. George, ordinance technician, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 165, performs for passers by in the tent city at an airbase in Kuwait Saturday (June 7). George, known as 'Babyface' to the Marines of HMM-165, has been teaching himself to play the guitar for five years and has become proficient enough to be able to play most songs 'by ear,' or just by listening to the music.
Photo by: Sgt. M. P. Shelato