1st Sgt. Lester McKinney

By Specialist Jessica Rohr
135th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

News story photo

1st Sgt. Lester McKinney, a native of Sardis, Miss., is serving his second deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, here near Tikrit, Iraq. McKinney is a Euphonium player with the 3rd Infantry Division Band, out of Fort Stewart, Ga.

Son of Mrs. Maggie L. McKinney of Sardis, Miss., McKinney is a graduate of the Mississippi Valley State University, Itta Bena, Miss. with a Bachelors of Science and a graduate of the University of Mississippi, Oxford, Miss., with a Masters in Music. His wife, In Sook and daughter, Lisa, reside in Midway, Ga.

"I think of myself as a musician. I am a Soldier and I am quite proud of it. I have been in for 24 short years, but I am a musician. Every time I get the opportunity to play, I love to do so," said 1st Sgt. McKinney.

After completing basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C., Feb. 1986, McKinney graduated from the U.S. Army Signal Center, Ft. Gordon, Ga., for Teletypewriter Repair. After completing his first advanced individual training, McKinney realized the possibility of fulfilling a childhood dream of being a musician through the military. McKinney completed the U.S. Army Element School of Music, Little Creek, Va., for training as a euphonium player, 1988.

Over the past 24 years he served as a euphonium player, Section Leader and Squad Leader with the U. S. Army Signal Corps Band, Ft. Gordon, Ga., the 2nd Infantry Division Band at Camp Casey, Korea, and the Eighth United States Army Band, Yongsan Garrison, Korea; Brass Group Leader and Platoon Sergeant with the U.S Infantry Center Band, Ft. Benning, Ga., and the 76th Army Band (V Corps) at Coleman Barracks, Germany; First Sergeant with the 76th Army Band (V Corps) in Iraq and Germany, the U.S Infantry Center Band, Ft. Benning, Ga., and the 36th Army Band, Fort Huachuca, Ariz. He assumed his current position as first sergeant, 3rd Infantry Division Band in June 2008, according to the 3rd ID Band Web site.

As a musician, McKinney entertains armed forces through many different genres of music. As part of the Task Force Marne Jazz Combo, McKinney played the keyboard at the Green Beans Coffee shop for Soldiers at COB Speicher, March 14.

"When I was a young man, I had the illusion of grandeur to think that, even though I didn't start playing the piano until I was a grown man, that I could possibly one day be a jazz piano player," said McKinney "This opportunity allows me to indulge in my youthful fantasies."


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