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Volunteer choir raises voice

Members of the volunteer choir practice The Star-Spangled Banner at the Goodfellow Chapel Sept. 8. The choir, currently composed completely of enlisted, student Airmen, will perform at the Air Force Ball. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kasabyan Musal)

Members of the volunteer choir practice The Star-Spangled Banner at the Goodfellow Chapel Sept. 8. The choir, currently composed completely of enlisted, student Airmen, will perform at the Air Force Ball. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kasabyan Musal)

Members of the 17th Training Group White Rope Choir sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the opening of the 2008 Air Force Ball Sept. 12 at the C.J. Davidson Conference Center at Angelo State University. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kasabyan Musal)

Members of the 17th Training Group White Rope Choir sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the opening of the 2008 Air Force Ball Sept. 12 at the C.J. Davidson Conference Center at Angelo State University. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kasabyan Musal)

Members of the 17th Training Group White Rope Choir lead ball attendees in the Air Force Song at the 2008 Air Force Ball Sept. 12 at the C.J. Davidson Conference Center at Angelo State University. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kasabyan Musal)

Members of the 17th Training Group White Rope Choir lead ball attendees in the Air Force Song at the 2008 Air Force Ball Sept. 12 at the C.J. Davidson Conference Center at Angelo State University. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kasabyan Musal)

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- The sound of singing coming from the Goodfellow Chapel might not seem out of place, but on Tuesdays, the songs you might hear are more patriotic than religious.

Seventeen volunteers from Goodfellow Air Force Base, many of them with prior singing experience, have banded together to form a patriotic singing group. The group, which is open to servicemembers from all branches on Goodfellow, will perform at the Air Force Ball tonight.

The choir's main focus so far has been "The Star-Spangled Banner," though volunteer choir director Airman 1st Class Aaron Howard said they're adding other patriotic songs to their repertoire as well.

"We're working on 'Battle Hymn of the Republic' and 'America the Beautiful' at the moment," said Airman Howard, a network intelligence student with the 316th Training Squadron. Additionally, he said the choir would like to become more versed in gospel music, as some members of the choir volunteer to sing at the chapel on Sundays. Still, Airman Howard stresses, this isn't a religious group.

"We're strictly patriotic," Airman Howard said. "We've got many different faiths."

In order to be approved to perform at Goodfellow events, the choir auditioned for Col. Richard Ayres, 17th Training Wing commander, his wife, Betsy Ayres, and Chap. (Maj.) Sammy Tucker.

"There was a lot of stress, because we didn't know what to expect," said Airman Howard. "We wanted to make sure it was perfect. Of course, we did the 'Star-Spangled Banner.'" By the time the performance was finished, Mrs. Ayres and Chaplain Tucker had tears in their eyes.

"To feel that we touched them in that way, we knew we were doing the right thing," said Airman 1st Class Molly Micks, a cryptologic linguist student with the 316 TRS who also serves as the choir's pianist.

Airman Howard said the choir's size has fluctuated as people come and go since it was started in July by Airman 1st Class Katherine Weston-Brown and Airman Basic Jonathan Covill.

"When I came in during the third week, there were about 20 people overall," Airman Howard said. "People come and go all the time."

Since becoming the choir director, he said he's seen the choir come together. "The main thing is learning teamwork," he said. "We had to get to the point where we have a chain of command. Now everyone works together as a team."

Current members of the choir are Airmen 1st Class Aaron Howard, Molly Micks, Ethan Derrick, Christopher Matlick, Samantha Hawkins, Sarah McIntire, Katherine Weston-Brown, Jana Palant, Daniel Phillips, Alexandar Frisbey, Christopher Ballew, Christopher Cacson, Jeremy Goldman and Airman Basic Jonathan Colvill of the 316 TRS, and Airmen 1st Class Alison McLaughlin, Joshua Brown and Jonathan Ponnfeldt of the 315th Training Squadron.

Though the current choir members are all students and all enlisted Airmen, the choir is open to volunteers of any branch of service, students and permanent party, officers and enlisted alike. Airman Howard expressed a need for altos and sopranos, but any singing part is welcome. Prior singing experience is preferred but not required.

For more information, contact Airman Howard at (831) 383-9623, or come by practice Tuesday, 6:30 p.m. at the Goodfellow Chapel.