Photo Information

BRISTOW, Va. – Kix Brooks watches as four service members salute the audience during Brooks & Dunn's 2001 hit song "Only in America" at the Nissan Pavilion June 10.

Photo by Sgt. Clinton Firstbrook

Service members step onstage with Brooks & Dunn

28 Jun 2007 | Sgt. Clinton Firstbrook

Four service members received a standing ovation from thousands of country music fans during a concert at the Nissan Pavilion June 10.

As Brooks & Dunn played their 2001 hit song “Only in America,” three Marines and one sailor marched onstage and saluted the crowd, throwing the audience into a frenzy.

“They went nuts,” said Staff Sgt. Brian Melton, a 28-year-old Hyden, Ky., native. “Out of all the things I’ve done since I enlisted, there has been no greater adrenaline rush or sense of pride than when everyone started cheering.”

The audience roared again a few seconds later when streamer and confetti cannons fired over the spectators.

“It was complete and utter amazement,” said Jennifer Melton, a 26-year-old, Hazard, Ky., native. “I probably took 25 to 30 pictures while my husband was up there.”

Following their concert cameo, the service members waited backstage to present Brooks & Dunn with a noncommissioned officer sword, courtesy of the Marine Corps Association, for the band’s continuous support of the troops.

This is the coolest thing we’ve received as a token of gratitude from the armed forces, said Kix Brooks.

We know exactly where it’s going, added Ronnie Dunn. On the wall in our recording studio.

After Brooks & Dunn posed for pictures and signed autographs, the service members left the backstage area to watch the amphitheater’s last act, Grammy award-winner Allan Jackson. On the way to their seats, they were greeted by several individuals who wanted to thank them for their service.

“One lady came up and gave us $20 saying that’s for your next beer,” explained Melton. “Another person told us her husband was severely injured in Iraq. She said when we came on stage it was the first time she had ever seen him cry.”

When the service members stood up to leave the pavilion, they were greeted with another standing ovation from the people sitting in their section.

“It reminded me why I chose to serve in the first place,” said Melton. “This is something I can tell my grandkids about.”

The tradition of bringing service members on stage started shortly after Sept. 11, 2001. In a Country Music Television behind-the-scenes look at Brooks & Dunn, Kix explained that having them participate in each show was the band’s way of saying thank you.
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