ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia -- A brass quintet from 2d Marine Division Band based at Camp Lejeune, N.C. visited here Feb. 20 at the request of Maj. Gen. John F. Sattler, Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa commander.
Sattler asked them to play at the Ethiopian National Day ceremony. As it turned out, the brass quintet entertained at several events and places during their visit to the Horn of Africa region.
Leaving Camp Lejeune Feb. 11, they arrived in Djibouti Feb. 15. Once there, the band members became involved with more than just the Ethiopian National Day festivities.
"We began practicing in the chapel at Camp Lemonier and before we knew it we were playing at the Protestant worship services on Sunday and did the same Wednesday night," said Master Sgt. Mathew J. Boatright, band master and native of Fort Wayne, Ind. "We also began conducting the morning and evening colors at the camp, and also had the opportunity to perform during the American National Day celebration which was held at the camp."
Yet, that wasn't all. The band also entertained local children at a Djiboutian orphanage and an elementary school.
"The children were very excited to see us," explained Lance Cpl. Alfredo D. Rodriguez Jr., a Marine Corps musician. "No words could even begin to describe the looks on their faces and how enthusiastic they were to interact with us and ask questions."
Finally, the band left Djibouti and boarded a U.S. Air Force C-130 aircraft enroute to Ethiopia to perform during the National Day celebration.
Before the big day though, the band visited the Yared School of Music here. Interacting with the students and giving them one-on-one periods of instruction after a performance, the band members taught the Ethiopian students how things are done in the 2d MarDiv Band.
"The feelings that these people felt when we played can never be taken out of them no matter what their hardships may be," said Boatright. "We really maxed out our potential as a quintet on this particular deployment, but it is all part of our jobs, and I'm just glad the command gave us these opportunities to share and teach our music."
Their final performance was at the Ethiopian National Day celebration Feb. 20. The band played an assortment of patriotic marches and classical tunes.
"It was just an honor to be here representing the United States while representatives from other countries were watching us," said Rodriguez. "It has
been fun out here, but looking at all the poverty really makes me think of how lucky I am, and what it means to be a service member helping other countries."