Tennessee Guardsmen prep Zac Brown Band concert for 1,500 plus fans

Story and photo by Sgt. John Stimac
13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs

CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE MAREZ, MOSUL, Iraq — Soldiers with the Regimental Fires Squadron, 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) volunteered to set up the stage for the Zac Brown Band's concert, April 16 at the amphitheater at Contingency Operating Base Marez, Iraq.

The Soldiers also provided force protection and acted as a personal security detail for the band as it toured the base during the day and performed later that night.

Sgt. Steven Miller, an armor sergeant with B Battery, RFS, 278th ACR and a Covington, Tenn., native, said he was asked to help with the band's Marez stop during its weeklong United Service Organizations tour.

"There is a lot more equipment than I expected and it was a lot of work," he said.

Miller said the hard work was worth it and he was glad to see a great band perform.

"I've seen them on (Country Music Television) but never live," he said.

Service members need the down time for events such as these, because it is great for morale, said Miller.

Spc. William Duignan, a gunner with A Battery, RFS, 278th ACR and a Seymour, Tenn., native, said he is a big fan of the Zac Brown Band, and was excited to set up for them and see a great concert in the front row.

"We set up all their speakers, delivered their personal bags for them," he said. "This is definitely the best band I've seen here."

Chris Fryar, the drummer with the Zac Brown Band and a Birmingham, Ala., native, said he was honored to perform in Iraq and hopes to bring a little taste of home to the Soldiers.

The American Country Music awards show will air live in the United States April 18, and the band has been nominated for two awards. However, they chose to be in Iraq instead of at the award ceremony, said Fryar.

"It means more for us to be here than at the ACMs," he said. "(Service members) are making a much bigger sacrifice over here having to spend time away from family, and I personally believe that it is important to give back."

This is the band's first time in Iraq. Fryar said he was surprised by the size of the installation, and how busy it is with sustainment operations and people traveling on and off of the base.

"Everyone is so organized around here, it is amazing," he said.

Fryar said he believes his band is a team, just like the military, and is glad it could come here. He said the experience, especially the time spent with service members, humbled him.

"I feel closer to the men and women here than ever before," said Fryar. "It was an honor to be here."


news photo
Zac Brown, with the Zac Brown Band, performs a song during his encore performance April 16 at the amphitheater at Contingency Operating Base Marez, Iraq. The band opted to perform in Iraq for its United Service Organizations sponsored tour, instead of attending the American Country Music awards show, where they are nominated for two awards.