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THE UNITED STATES ARMY FIELD BAND
 FORT MEADE, MARYLAND -

U.S. Army Field Band Soldier brings love of music to war zone

By Caitlin Moran
The Gazette

News story photo
Photo credit: Jonathan E. Agee
Sgt. Maj. Nock, returned earlier this year from a one-year tour in Iraq, where she oversaw a group of 40 fellow musicians.
Before she joined the military, Sgt. Maj. Leslie Nock of Laurel worked two jobs to supplement the money she earned doing freelance gigs as a trombone player. Like many professional musicians, Nock had a tough time making ends meet.

She joined the U.S. Army because the military offered to pay off her student loans. Now, 27 years later, Nock said her role with the Army Field Band is about much more than the money.

"I came for that, [but] I stayed because I love serving my country," she said.

Nock, 48, returned from a one-year tour in Iraq in January with the 1st Cavalry Division Band. During her time overseas, Nock supervised the band's 40 enlisted musicians, who completed more than 200 performances for their fellow soldiers.

The band was based at Camp Liberty and performed in a variety of different settings, including boosting troop morale in the dining hall and flying helicopter missions to remote bases for soldier memorial services. The style of music being performed also varied from ceremonial music to jazz to popular rock.

Even though most soldiers bring their portable music players overseas, Nock said, taking part in a live concert is a cherished experience for the troops.

"It takes you back to a happy place where you're back at home with your family and your friends," she said. "You can't get that from your iPod."

Jonathan E. Agee, a spokesman for the Army Field Band, said Nock and the musicians she works with are the best of the best. Several of them, including Nock, hold advanced music degrees, and their performances are at the same level as that of a professional symphony orchestra, Agee said.

"To see them perform ... is just such an incredible experience," he said.

For Nock, serving in Iraq was all about bringing a piece of home to soldiers who were thousands of miles away from their families and friends. The 1st Cavalry Division Band also performed in local ceremonies and events and worked to form an initial partnership with the Iraqi Army Band and the Iraqi Symphony Orchestra.

"Our focus was to provide music for soldiers as often as possible and ... to try to form partnerships in the communities that we're most closely tied to," Nock said.

Nock's tour was not without its challenges. Although Camp Liberty is a very large, extensive military base, the air conditioning system malfunctioned from time to time and left the musicians having to deal with intense desert heat. And even though Nock's group was not directly involved in any combat, they faced the realities of war on a regular basis.

In the time since she returned to the U.S., Nock has been stationed at Fort Meade and is a support group element leader with the Army Field Band. She said one of her top priorities now is sharing the musical talent of the Army Field Band including performing with the Anne Arundel Community College's community band.

"It's great. Anytime we add professional players to the mix, it helps," said Master Sgt. Jay Norris, a Fort Meade senior support musician and community college tuba instructor.

The Army Field Band will continue its summer concert series next month, with a series of free performances that are open to the public. The concerts are scheduled for Aug. 7, 14 and 21. All the performances begin at 7 p.m. and will take place at Centennial Park, located within Fort Meade. For more information, visit www.armyfieldband.com or call 301-677-6586.

The story was originally published online at www.gazette.net/stories/07152010/laurnew154638_32538.php

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