Tops in Blue: not your average song and dance

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Torri K. Larson
  • 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
The lights dim as the excitement pulsing through the crowd turns to a hushed anticipation. Expectant whispers turn to cheers as the Air Force's premier entertainment group, Tops in Blue, takes the stage. It's a dazzle of lights, sequins and smiles as they perform music from well-known movies and genres ranging from country to rock-n-roll. High-energy performers pull the audience in and are rewarded with standing ovations and an abundance of laughter. This is Tops in Blue. 

Liberty Warriors got to experience the magic of entertainment at RAF Mildenhall Aug. 2, during the Tops in Blue world tour 2008, Deja Blue. 

Two members of this year's Tops in Blue team are from RAF Lakenheath and RAF Mildenhall. Both Airman 1st Class Jesse Hernandez-Lora, 48th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, and Senior Airman David Leatherwood, 727th Air Mobility Squadron, said they were happy to be "home." 

"It almost feels too good," Airman Leatherman said. "I don't really want to leave." 

Airman Hernandez-Lora said he felt the same, but he gave some insight into the future. 

"I know that if I stayed here long enough, I'd probably be ready to leave again," he laughed. He said he was excited to be traveling so much with Tops in Blue. "If I didn't do this, I'd just be staying in one place." 

A loud thud echoes somewhere behind them as their fellow performers tear down the stage. Wearing back braces, work gloves and utility boots, the Tops in Blue team pulls down rigging, loads up instruments and packs away their pristine costumes. 

People are sometimes surprised to see that the performers are also the stage crew, said Edward Jones, Tops in Blue performance director. 

"In Tops in Blue, people wear four hats," he said. "They have their technical jobs and additional duties. They also are performers and Tops in Blue ambassadors." 

Airmen Leatherwood and Hernandez-Lora said it's a lot of work to be in Tops in Blue, but it's well worth it. Although they miss good friends and family while they're on the road, they both said the touring experience is one of best things they've done. 

Each Airman grabs his instrument and loads it in a truck. The glimmer on their faces in daylight is different than what it was under the stage lights. Smiles are in no short supply, but the energy and excitement serves a new purpose as, piece by piece, the Tops in Blue performers pack up their home away from home. 

"The definition of sacrifice is surrendering something of value to you for the sake of something else," said Mr. Jones. "That is Tops in Blue."