She was a rescue swimmer in the Navy, she’s a motocross athlete, and she knows how to use a gun — so yeah, she can more than hold her own.
We Are The Mighty sat her down to find out about her taste in music, and it was everything we’d hoped for and more.
Carrizosa has the kind of self-confidence that lets her to talk about her many successes and adventures, still with the perfect blend of self-deprecating humor. You get a taste of this when she gives a sample of her Atreyu scream, right after nonchalantly mentioning her “50-cals” and right before laughing at herself.
“In my mind, music definitely has a strong power and it has the ability to move people for the better.”
The “Pitch Perfect” films are actually pretty funny and the music is definitely catchy — great date night movie (you’re welcome).
If you haven’t seen them, they’re about a women’s collegiate a capella (singing without music accompaniment) group competing against other singers for glory and what not. I was wondering where the third film would go, considering most of the characters were graduating at the end of “Pitch Perfect 2” — and now we have our answer: the USO.
This introduces some military-ness into an otherwise girly world — including military working dogs and Anna Kendrick flying out the back of a heavy — but mostly it leaves me wondering one thing: How would a group like the Bardon Bellas be received on a USO tour?
And on that note, who have been your absolute favorite (and not-so-favorite) USO guests? Leave a comment and let me know.
Today’s U.S. Navy can trace its origins to the Continental Navy of the Revolutionary War. It boasts the largest, most capable fleet in history, proudly serving its mission of “…winning wars, deterring aggression, and maintaining freedom of the seas.” America’s sailors are the finest in the world, and their rousing song — born in victory — suits them well.
Bandmaster Lt. Charles A. Zimmerman served as director of the U.S. Naval Academy Band from 1887 until his death in 1916, and he wrote a march for each graduating class. But it was “Anchors Aweigh” would be the one ultimately adopted by the U.S. Navy as its official song.
The Navy Midshipmen take the field in the 2012 Army-Navy game.
U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chad Runge)
2. It helped shut out the Army
By 1906, Navy had not beaten Army on the football field since 1900. Midshipman First Class Alfred Hart Miles approached Zimmerman with a request for a new march — one that would lift spirits and “live forever.” According to legend, Miles and Zimmerman got to work at the Academy’s chapel organ. Later that month, the band and brigade performed the song and the Navy swept the Army in a 10-0 victory.
Sailors secure a line to the capstan while hoisting the anchor chain.
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class David Finley)
3. It’s chock full of naval jargon, starting with the title
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael D. Cole)
4. It evolved over time
It wasn’t until 1997 that the lyrics were finally revised (by the 8th Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy, John Hagan) to be a little less college football and a little more domination of the high seas.
The revised lyrics include some naval lore, such as a reference to Davy Jones, whose locker on the ocean floor is home to drowned sailors and shipwrecks, and the “seven seas,” an ancient phrase for all the world’s oceans.
UPDATE: THE VOTING IS NOW CLOSED AND THE WINNER WILL BE ANNOUNCED ON MONDAY, SEPT. 25, 2017 AT WE ARE THE MIGHTY!
Welcome to the finals for Mission: Music, where veterans from all five branches compete for a chance to perform onstage at Base*FEST powered by USAA. CLICK THE BUTTON BELOW TO VOTE every day to determine the winner!
JP is a United States Marine with four combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. He is also a singer/songwriter, life documenter, spirited lover, and careful father.
As a teenager, he went to the funeral of his brother’s close friend where someone pulled out an acoustic guitar and played “What I Got” by Sublime. JP fell in love with the way music assisted in healing that day. He also had to say goodbye to friends and loved ones of his own, including his brother and sister. Music became a way for him to document life, writing about love and loss.
Currently, the JP Guhns team is based out of South Carolina. JP is determined to push his blend of southern rock and alternative country out to anyone on a “poor man’s budget and a dad’s schedule.”
He has two children, a wonderful wife, and a strong ambition for life.
For every vote, USAA will donate $1 (up to $10k) to Guitars for Vets, a non-profit organization that enhances lives of ailing and injured military veterans by providing them with guitars and a forum to learn how to play. Your votes help those who served rediscover their joy through the power of music!
Made on a budget of $0, the Annapolis midshipmen’s version of Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk” featuring Bruno Mars is the most polished military music parody to date. The cast and crew consist entirely of midshipmen, and it perfectly captures the joy of being on liberty. The crew even managed to mashup Anchors Away into the funky tune, listen closely around 3:00 of the video.
As far back as he can remember, Sean Gilfillan has had two distinct halves to his personality: a button-down, achievement-oriented practical side, and an artistic, musical side. And while most people with similar dualities accept that the former will most likely pay the bills while the latter is, at best, a hobby, Gilfillan never did. And that refusal has resulted in an unorthodox career path, one that generates income while nurturing his drive to be creative.
Gilfillan continued his family’s history of service in the U.S. Army by attending Norwich University on a ROTC scholarship and then accepting a commission as an artillery officer. After going through training at Fort Sill in 2003 he was assigned to the First Armored Division and deployed to Iraq. After two months in-country, he was assigned to A Co., 1/6 Infantry Battalion as their Fire Support Officer.
“I was fire support, but I didn’t have much to do with that specialty in central Baghdad,” he said. “So I kind of morphed into infantry.”
He worked closely with the locals performing what he described as “hybrid civil affairs” in the crucial Korada district. Right as his unit was due to rotate back to the states, they were extended for an additional three months. And the day they were extended seven of his fellow soldiers were killed by a suicide bomber driving a car loaded with explosives.
That loss affected him deeply. “You start questioning the randomness of war,” he said. “But at that point, I decided I always wanted to be connected to the military in some way.”
After rotating out of the war zone he spent a year in Germany. During that time, he figured he’d done what he’d set out to do as an Army officer, and in 2006 he transitioned to the civilian world and wound up back his hometown in Rhode Island.
“I literally had no idea what I wanted to do beyond something cool in entertainment,” he admitted.
Gilfillan went on unemployment for a few months as he hatched a plan, one driven by the attitudes of the civilians with whom he came in contact.
“People were asking me crazy questions about going to war,” he said. “And when I answered I could see they couldn’t have been less interested.”
So, with the encouragement of his new wife Sidney, he did something suitably unorthodox: He launched To The Fallen Records [now To The Fallen Entertainment], “the world’s first military record label,” as he put it. The name came from a large tattoo he’d had inked across his back a few years before in remembrance of the seven soldiers his unit lost on that tragic day in Iraq.
To The Fallen (TTF) exclusively featured veteran artists, primarily in the hip hop and country genres. The company was featured in Rolling Stone, Billboard, and The New York Times. The word was getting out, and Gilfillan was confident he’d started a viable business.
TTF released a couple of compilation CDs and sold them online. Orders were brisk at first, but then the bottom fell out.
“Turns out 2009 was the absolute worst time to start a record label,” Gilfillan said.
Social media and streaming services like Spotify and Pandora were radically changing how consumers purchased music. Nearly overnight CDs became an archaic format.
TTF’s distributor went bankrupt, so even if orders came in, Gilfillan had no way to get the CDs out. He was shouldering a massive amount of debt and running out of time.
Help came in the form of a phone call out of the blue from a sergeant major he’d served with in Iraq. The Pentagon had a reserve billet open for a counter-insurgency expert. Gilfillan was qualified by virtue of the civil affairs work he’d done during the war, and he needed the job. He said yes.
Gilfillan worked in the U.S. Army’s Asymmetric Warfare Office, learning the government’s budgeting process. In the course of doing the job he also learned a lot about how Morale, Welfare, and Recreation works, both good and bad.
From his experience with TTF Records, Gilfillan knew what it took to book top-flight talent. He saw that because there wasn’t any centralized way for commands to put their local events together, troops weren’t always getting the talent they deserved and the government was paying too much for the acts they were getting.
“Only a few active duty people understand it even though it’s a $10 billion industry,” he said.
In 2010 Gilfillan left the Pentagon job, and, after consulting with several financial experts, he put his learnings into action as To The Fallen Entertainment.
TTFE pursued two main missions at once: Convincing installations that centralizing the way they booked entertainment would get them higher levels of talent at less cost, and becoming an approved DoD contractor.
The latter happened, and soon thereafter TTFE was contracted to provide the U.S. Marine Corps with 50 shows across the world. Gilfillan landed acts like David Allan Grier, Gabriel Inglesias, Iliza Shlesinger, and Bubba Sparks.
Along the way, TTFE incorporated best practices for the company while doing the same for clients. At the same time, Gilfillan had his eye on bigger deals like the U.S. Army’s 5-year entertainment contract.
“We checked all of the boxes to land that contract,” Gilfillan said. “Diversity, size, scope — that’s what TTFE’s first four years were all about.”
TTFE won the Army’s contract, and that gave Gilfillan the confidence to hire four employees and set up his headquarters in San Antonio.
“We’re still small, but we want to be big,” he said. “The trick for us is to simultaneously be trusted insiders and expert outsiders.”
Gilfillan’s goal is to grow TTFE into a $25-50 million company by proving its worth to more installations, showing how they can gain efficiencies across DoD.
“[DoD] has a massive enterprise advantage,” he said. “TTFE wants to help them leverage it.”
The future is bright, but in the face of business success, Gilfillan is careful to maintain his focus.
“The sole mission of TTFE is to boost the morale of troops and families on installations,” he said. “We want bigger talent and bigger shows for them.”
TTFE has now done hundreds of shows across all of the services. Next year the company is launching their “BaseFEST Program” a partnership between TTFE and installations to create what Gilfillan calls “their own unique versions of Coachella.”
Gilfillan’s advice for veterans transitioning behind him is to think big.
“In your own vision of where you want to be in life it’s important to have an end state in mind,” he said. “I wanted to be someone who’s doing big stuff in the entertainment industry.”
As well as a general goal, Gilfillan also says that vets in the process of getting out need to cultivate skills relevant to the industries they’re pursuing.
“If you want to go into tech, you have to know how to code,” he said.
And more than anything, Gilfillan recommends that vets not give into the fear that comes with leaving the structure of the military.
“I was half a million dollars in debt at one point,” he said. “But I succeeded because I was willing to fail.”
Editor’s Note: To The Fallen Entertainment is proud to present Base*FEST Powered by USAA, a new music festival that launched this Independence Day weekend at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. It’s hitting NAS Pensacola next, and it prides itself on providing a free music festival experience to active duty military, veterans, and their local community.
Ronald McNair was an accomplished guy. NASA’s second-ever African-American astronaut was a physicist, a world-renowned expert in lasers, 5th-degree black belt in Karate, and jazz saxophonist. Amazingly, he was also dedicated to making sure most of those accomplishments lined up — in space.
The multi-talented astronaut was then working with French composer Jean-Michel Jarre, whose work in the electronic music and synthpop was unparalleled. The two were collaborating on a piece for one of the composer’s upcoming albums that would include a saxophone solo recorded in orbit above the Earth.
McNair was also set to perform a live concert with Jarre’s band — a specially-written solo just for him — during one of their performances through a live feed from his second mission aboard the Challenger space shuttle. Of course, none of this happened. On this mission, Challenger never made it to orbit, disintegrating 73 seconds into its launch from Cape Canaveral on January 28, 1986.
The accomplished astronaut’s musical solo would have been the first piece of live music ever recorded in space.
When Jarre’s album, called Rendez-Vous, was released, it included a track called “Ron’s Piece,” using McNair’s actual heartbeat as the beat of the piece.
The concert also went on as scheduled. Jarre took to the stage in Houston on Apr. 5 of that same year to a cacaphony of synth sounds, lasers, and fireworks. Though McNair wasn’t giving his solo from space, 1.3 million people still checked in to see the concert in McNair’s honor.
The Houston, Texas skyline lights up for Jarre’s tribute to McNair.
At the request of McNair’s wife, Grammy-winning jazz musician Kirk Whalum performed McNair’s saxophone solo.
“Going on stage took on a new meaning that day,” he told CNN. “Because not to mention this horde, this mass of humanity, and all the security just to get to this spot, but then they had to hoist my instrument up, and then I was climbing up this crazy ladder to get to the top of this scaffold.”
It was the largest-ever public performance of its kind up to that point.
The trombone is an interesting instrument. No, wait! Don’t click away! Seriously, we’re building to a point about the military.
Basically, playing music on the trombone requires two manipulations to produce different notes and patterns.
First, changing the position of the slide. The musician moves their arm closer or further from their body, lengthening or shortening the instrument and producing a different pitch.
Almost more important for producing the proper sounds, though, is how the musician changes the tightness of his or her lips.
Trombone players are actually buzzing into the instrument, not just blowing, and can change the note by tightening or loosening their lips while buzzing (so to speak…).
Neither method is a particularly quick way to change notes when compared to the quick fingerwork of a flute, trumpet, or violin.
That’s what made it so surprising to watch Army band member Sgt. 1st Class Carmen Russo absolutely slay “The Flight of the Bumblebee” three times in a row, each time faster than the last (and played on successively smaller trombones).
“The Flight of the Bumblebee” is a fast-paced, technically challenging song when played at normal speeds on an instrument like the trumpet or flute, making the staff sergeant’s success at high speeds on the trombone all the more impressive.
There are no GIFs or screengrabs that can properly demonstrate what is going on here, so you’ll just have to watch the video. You can jump ahead to 4:10 if you only want to watch the fastest rendition.
“Forward, the Light Brigade! ‘Charge for the guns!’ he said: Into the valley of Death. Rode the six hundred.”
This was part of Lord Alfred Tennyson’s poem about how much of a cluster f*** the Battle of Balaclava truly ended up being. It is also the subject of Iron Maiden’s “The Trooper.”
The song directly states, “And as I lay forgotten and alone. Without a tear I draw my parting groan,” as a tribute to unnamed troops who were killed that day. In the many years that have since passed, letters have been discovered of first hand testimony of the ill-fated battle.
From 1853-1856, French, British, and Ottoman forces fought against the Russian Empire in the Crimean War. Conflict began after the Russians occupied Ottoman territory in modern day Romania. Within this war, the most infamous battle was at Balaclava where “The Charge of the Light Brigade” took place.
Under the command of Maj. General James Brudenell, 7th Earl of Cardigan, the light cavalry brigade consisted of roughly 670 men. Lord Raglan, the Commander of the British forces, intended to prevent Russian troops from maintaining their guns on Ottoman positions.
There are many historical discrepancies on who ordered the actual charge, but the fact remains: the cavalrymen charged directly into enemy cannons, killing roughly a sixth of brigade and another sixth wounded, totaling 271 casualties.
It was later discovered that the Russians numbered 5,240 strong.
An unknown officer of the 17th Lancers wrote in a recently discovered letter, “We all knew the thing was desperate before we started, and it was even worse than we thought. However there was no hesitation, down our fellows went at a gallop — through a fire in front and on both flanks, which emptied our saddles and knocked over our horses by scores. I do not think that one man flinched in the whole Brigade — though every one allows that so hot a fire was hardly ever seen.”
The loyalty of the British cavalry became well respected. The London Gazette wrote of the charge weeks after. While the commanders became despised, the troops were revered for their courage in the face of certain death.
Private Pearson of the 4th Light Dragoons wrote to his parents, “I shall never forget the 25th of October — shells, bullets, cannonballs, and swords kept flying around us. Dear Mother, every time I think of my poor comrades it makes my blood run cold, to think how we had to gallop over the poor wounded fellows lying on the field of battle, with anxious looks for assistance — what a sickening scene!”
Roger Fenton is regarded as one of the first war photographers and was present at the charge. Fenton refused to photograph dead or wounded as to not upset Victorian Era sensibilities, but he did capture troops and many moments after.
This photo that J. Paul Getty Museum called “one of the most well-known images of war” shows the aftermath of cannonballs that littered the landscape. The photograph titled “Valley of the Shadow of Death” has been on exhibition with the over 300 other images of the Crimean War
Today, the Light Brigade is remembered in the song “The Trooper.” Bruce Dickinson frequently on tour wears the British “red coat” smock as he waves a war-torn Union Jack. There has never been a more appropriate time to form a wall of death in the mosh pit.
Check out Iron Maiden’s “The Trooper” here, in all its glory:
It’s fairly well known to students of pop culture and classic rock aficionados that the father of The Doors’ frontman Jim Morrison was a flag officer in the U.S. Navy. What is not as well known is that then-Captain George Stephen Morrison was the commander of U.S. Naval forces at the time of the Gulf of Tonkin Incident that gave the Johnson Administration the justification they needed to enter the Vietnam War.
After graduating with the U.S. Naval Academy’s Class of 1941, George Morrison was sent to Hawaii to join the crew of the minelayer USS Pruitt (DM 22). He was there on the fateful morning of Dec. 7 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.
After several combat deployments as a surface warfare officer, Morrison went to flight school. He pinned on his Wings of Gold in 1944 and flew combat missions in the Pacific for the balance of World War II and also during the Korean War.
In August of 1964, Morrison was aboard the USS Bon Homme Richard (CVA 31) leading the U.S. Navy force stationed off the coast of Vietnam. On August 2 several North Vietnamese patrol boats attacked the USS Maddox (DD 731) during an intelligence gathering mission that put the ship at 28 miles off the coast.
The PT boats fired several torpedoes that Maddox evaded while firing back with five-inch guns. Maddox hit one of the attacking boats, while F-8 aircraft launched from the USS Ticonderoga (CVA 14) strafed the others as they fled, sinking one and heavily damaging another. Maddox emerged from the skirmish having only been hit by a single bullet.
Tensions remained high over the next days, and Morrison put his assets on high alert. Under the direction of President Johnson, he also ordered Maddox along with the USS Turner Joy (DD 951) to sail close to the North Vietnamese coast to “show the flag.”
During an evening and early morning of rough weather and heavy seas, the destroyers received radar, sonar, and radio signals that they believed signaled another attack by the North Vietnamese navy.
For some four hours the ships fired on radar targets and maneuvered vigorously amid electronic and visual reports of enemies. Despite the Navy’s claim that two attacking torpedo boats had been sunk, there was no wreckage, bodies of dead North Vietnamese sailors, or other physical evidence present at the scene of the alleged engagement.
James B. Stockdale, later an admiral who was bestowed the Medal of Honor for his bravery during his time as a POW in Hanoi, was airborne in an F-8 during that time and reported seeing no enemy activity.
The details of the incident were distorted (perhaps intentionally) between Morrison and the other commanders on the scene, the Pentagon, and the White House. That night President Johnson interrupted prime time TV (a very big deal in those days) and told the American public that two U.S. Navy warships had been attacked on the high seas and he was asking Congress for support to counter the North Vietnamese aggression.
At the same time Morrison and his staff told Navy headquarters in Hawaii that the radar returns the destroyers had targeted were probably false returns generated by the rough seas. Headquarters relayed the information to Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, but he failed to gives those details to President Johnson.
Based on Johnson’s testimony that the destroyers had suffered an unprovoked attack in international waters, Congress approved the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, giving the president the authority to conduct military operations in Southeast Asia without a declaration of war.
According to an article by Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon, the next year Johnson commented privately: “For all I know our Navy was shooting whales out there.”
George Stephen Morrison went on to earn his first star at the young age of 47. Five years later he was the keynote speaker at the decommissioning ceremony for Bon Homme Richard in Washington D.C. the same day his son Jim, the rock icon, died in Paris, France at age 27 after years of drug and alcohol abuse.
The elder Morrison was an avid piano player who had always encouraged his three children to appreciate music, but he never understood the choices Jim made and was always perplexed when he went to friends’ homes and saw posters of his son on their children’s walls.
George Stephen Morrison retired from the Navy in August 1975 as a rear admiral. He died in Coronado, California in 2008.
June deployed to Fallujah during OIF as Field Radio Operator and earned several awards during his time in service. He even credits the Marine Corps for giving him the needed discipline to continually write his rap lyrics drawing them from personal experience.
Afterward, he became a CBRN instructor and trained hundreds of Marines before they deployed to their combat zones.
In 2012, Marx received an Honorable discharge from the Marine Corps then spearheaded himself to focus on his true calling — a music career.
June wears the gas mask as part of his image and believes the modern music industry is too “toxic” and there aren’t enough artists with “substance” being promoted.
The rock band Foo Fighters didn’t just put some gibberish out there and call it a band name. Frontman Dave Grohl was actually reading a book about UFOs and he picked a name that, at the time, seemed to fit.
“Around the time that I recorded the first FF tape (that became the first record), I was reading a lot of books on UFOs, he told Clash. “Since I had recorded the first record by myself, playing all the instruments…I wanted people to think that it was a group, I figured that Foo Fighters might lead people to believe that it was more than just one guy. Silly, huh?”
Grohl is referring to the World War II slang term among fighter and bomber crews who believed they saw UFOs: “foo fighters.”
The lights disappeared and reappeared a number of times. Meiers dubbed them “foo fighters,” from a nonsense word in a popular cartoon of the time.
They never showed up on radar and appeared to multiple aircrews of the 415th Night Fighter Squadron. They outmaneuvered all the aircraft and flew as fast or faster than 200 miles per hour.
Reports from the era say the pilots reported feeling “scared shitless” though the lights never caused damage to the airframes.
The Air Corps sent investigators to the 415th after journalist Robert Wilson published a front-page story in newspapers across America, but the investigation never saw the light of day. Even a CIA-funded panel of physicists failed to offer an explanation.
As for the band name, Grohl believes the name hasn’t really stood the test of time.
“Had I actually considered this to be a career, I probably would have called it something else, because it’s the stupidest f*cking band name in the world,” Grohl said.
The death of former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega brings back memories of the dictator’s last hours of freedom. U.S. special operators tried to force his surrender using loud rock music — music now gathered together on two handy Spotify playlists.
Instead of storming a building owned by a neutral, noncombatant foreign power, the Navy SEALs and Delta Force operators developed Operation Nifty Package. It was a psyops mission, designed to force Noriega to rescind his right of asylum in the Vatican-owned Embassy.
When Pope John Paul II refused to comment on the incident and the Papal Nuncio wouldn’t force the dictator to leave, the U.S. Army Psychological Operations Command began to blare a “Rock n’ Roll Assault on Noriega…for three full days.
Noriega was captured and sent to Miami where he was sentenced to 30 years in prison for drug and money laundering charges. He was extradited to France in 2010 to stand trial for money laundering there. Noriega was then extradited to Panama the next year to finish his sentences for the disappearances of political prisoners in the 1980s.