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US Air Forces in Europe spread cheer in Trier

usae europe spangdahlem
Staff Sgt. Timothy Shaw, U.S. Air Forces in Europe Band drummer, performs with the Five Star Brass ensemble at the Trier Christmas Market Dec. 15. The USAFE Band played Christmas music in Trier and Bitburg to strengthen ties between U.S. and German neighbors in the area and is scheduled to perform on Spangdahlem Air Base at the commissary, J.R Rockers and the post office, Dec. 21. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Benjamin Wilson)

By Senior Airman Clay Murray 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- Six servicemembers from Sembach Kaserne, Germany, spent an evening at the Christmas market in the German city of Trier enjoying the company of a crowd of locals and Americans in a cold but comfortable setting.

They didn't, however, visit Germany's oldest city to take care of Christmas shopping, or to visit one of the larger markets in the local area or even for a glimpse of the city's numerous Roman ruins. The Airmen are six members of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe Band.

These six in particular are musicians who comprise the Five Star Brass and percussion.

Huddled up on a small pavilion in the center of one of the market areas, the Five Star Brass performed renditions of popular Christmas tunes such as "Silent Night," "Frosty the Snowman," and "White Christmas" through a French horn, tuba, trombone, two trumpets and a drumset.

The ensemble is led by Tech. Sgt. David Hartung, Five Star Brass NCO in charge. Sergeant Hartung plays Tuba and has performed on many shows and recordings and is currently pursuing his Doctorate of Musical Arts.

Interaction of the crowd is always a sign of approval, and it wasn't difficult to convince viewers to sing, hum or even dance along.

"They actually know the American songs better than we do," Sergeant Hartung said. "Especially some of the more popular ones - they know the second verses. They are fully aware of American traditions, Christmas songs and exactly what we are playing for them, and it's an opportunity for us to share with them."

Performances by the Five Star Brass in the Trier Christmas market is an annual occasion to celebrate with the German people, said Sergeant Hartung.

"We do this in the local community because it is our common bond with the people of Trier - it's the celebration of Christmas and the whole holiday season here."

Performing in a setting for the local public is a chance with many different benefits, explained Sergeant Hartung.

"It's always a pleasure to play for the German people as well as the American people who are here in the area," he added. "It is an opportunity to build partnerships with our host nation, and it also gives us an opportunity to give back to the German public who has been so friendly to us."

The Christmas market performance was an opportunity for people to come and see Air Force people in person, said Sergeant Hartung, but it was also an opportunity for the band as Air Force members.

"This is an opportunity for the community to actually put the face to an Air Force member. We, as Air Force members, get to come and shake the hand or talk to the German population. Because so often we go to our bases and we don't get to intermingle with the general public," he said.

Members from the USAFE Band also played Dec. 11 in the nearby city of Bitburg to a crowd of locals and Spangdahlem Air Base leadership.

Published December 17, 2010

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