Marne-A-Palooza brings music, food, fun to Iraq

By Sgt. Jessica Rohr
135th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, 3rd Infantry Division PAO

News story photo
Photo credit: Sgt. Jessica Rohr
The Night Shift Brass Band started Marne-A-Palooza out on a good note of New Orleans-street style jazz at the Contingency Operating Base Speicher stadium, April 24. During their performance the band tossed out Mardi Gras beads and stuffed cows to the crowd.
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, Iraq – Hundreds of servicemembers and civilians attended a concert featuring three bands from the 3rd Infantry Division Band at Contingency Operating Base Speicher, Iraq, April 24.

Task Force Marne and Morale, Welfare and Recreation presented Marne-A-Palooza, a night of live music, games and prize drawings. The event featured the Night Shift Brass Band, Sasquatch and the 4 Horsemen of the Arockalypse to heighten morale.

The Night Shift Brass Band opened with some New Orleans-style street jazz. They played songs such as “April,” by the Young Blood Brass Band, and “I Feel Like Funkin’ it Up,” by Rebirth Brass Band, as they tossed Mardi Gras beads to the crowd.

“I thought it was awesome,” said Spc. Nick M. Bowie, a trombone player in the Night Shift Brass Band, 3rd Infantry Division. “We had an awesome turnout. The crowd was really into it.”

Sasquatch, a top 40 and popular country cover band, then performed. The interaction from the crowd increased as the audience started singing along to some of the songs. The lead singer, Sgt. Ralph D. Gaskin, shared his fame and got the audience involved when he sang, “There is one in every crowd that brings the party in us out,” from “One in Every Crowd,” by Montgomery Gentry.

“Sasquatch is definitely the best,” said Sgt. Siera M. Greiner, a medic with the 313th Ground Ambulance, Task Force 61st Multifunction Medical Battalion. “They played music that everyone knows, can enjoy, can sing to, and they were energetic. I enjoyed all the songs.”
Throughout the night, audience members perused vendors’ booths and snacked on sandwiches and drinks provided by the main dining facility. Servicemembers also had the opportunity to dunk their favorite Soldiers in the dunk tank, such as Lt. Col. Nora R. Marcos, battalion commander of Division Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division, out of Fort Stewart, Ga.

“The dunk tank was my favorite part of Marne-A-Palooza,” said Sgt. Greiner. “It was fun to watch people dunk the lieutenant colonel.”
Many local organizations; Kellogg, Brown and Root; MWR; Exchange New Car Sales; Army & Air Force Exchange Service and the main DFAC, helped make this event possible through support, sponsoring and donations of prizes.

“It was great that they were able to coordinate across so many organizations - like AAFES, the MWR and the band - and make them all come together,” said Staff Sgt. Debra T. Whittingham, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the Target Audience Analysis Team with the 346th Tactical Psychological Operations Company. “It’s a really good event. My favorite part has been … the opportunity to see the Bazaar vendors, because I have never gone before. It was good to see them out here and what goods they have to offer.”

The event came to an end with the 4 Horsemen of the Arockalypse performing heavy metal. Harley Davidson t-shirts and bandanas were thrown into a mosh pit of metal fans during “Walk” by Pantera.

Anticipation for the top prize, an iPod Touch, provided by Exchange New Car Sales, was amplified as Mr. Peter J. Doyle, a program manager with the Exchange New Car Sales from Tipperary, Ireland, drew a name from the raffle box and announced Pvt. Carol A. Ruiz, a mental health specialist with the 85th Combat Stress Control, as the winner.

“It’s a great way to show our appreciation to the troops,” said Mr. Doyle. “It’s all the little things. It’s just a nice thing to give back to them to say ‘thank you’ for the job they do out here.”

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