ARMY PHOTO BY SGT. STEPHANIE CARL
Sgt. Charles Duncan, left, and Sgt. Jonathan Swigert jam at a session at Kandahar Air Base in Afghanistan. Both soldiers are assigned to Headquarters & Headquarters Company, 3rd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division.
Soldiers reach out
Two Schofield Barracks sergeants
help entertain comrades in Afghanistan
Schofield Barracks Sgts. Charles Duncan and Jonathan Swigert used music as a way to pass the long, monotonous days during their deployment in Afghanistan.
Neither Swigert, 29, nor Duncan, 31, knew each other until they arrived at Kandahar Air Base in mid-April. It was Duncan who first began performing on his guitar and playing songs, which he authored at "open mic" nights at Kandahar.
Swigert joined him several months later. Eventually they formed a band and called themselves AkoustiKAF. Recently, they competed in a Kandahar Star Search competition, which they won, and now have a chance to audition to compete in the American Star Search.
Eventually, the two soldiers hope to open their own studio to begin recording and find other musical talent to record.
Swigert said: "Music is important to me because it give me a healthy way to vent frustrations, as well as a medium through which I can express my feelings about a particular place or situation in my life. The other soldiers enjoy us sharing our talent with them by expressing what we are going through here in Afghanistan by using the songs we write."
He plans to leave the Army shortly after his unit returns to Schofield Barracks.
For Duncan, "music is the best way I know to touch people," he said. "With music, you can make 'em happy when they are sad, make them laugh when they want to cry, and make them cry when they want to laugh. It is a great way to improve camaraderie and it brings people together ... I can't think of anything I would rather do than create music that people enjoy."
During the Christmas holidays, Duncan said he would take his guitar to visit some of the 25th Infantry Division soldiers who are stationed outside Kandahar "to pass some holiday cheer."
Both Duncan and Swigert are members of the 25th Infantry Division's 3rd Brigade's Headquarters & Headquarters Company. Duncan, who has been in the Army for six years, is in charge of the unit's firing ranges and marksmanship program while Swigert heads its military maintenance team.
The two also are proud of a civil affairs project their unit sponsored, in which they built a floor and made furniture for an elementary school.
"It was basically a mud hut," Swigert said.
"There was no floor, just dirt, and it was real rocky," Duncan added. "Besides the new floor, the soldiers also built tables and chairs for the school."
The children and their teachers "definitely were very appreciative," he said. "They loved us to death."
Swigert said projects like that made "the deployment more worthwhile."
Duncan said he wants to stay in the Army and has already re-enlisted, and that the Army has promised to station him at Fort Campbell, which is close to his home in Knoxville, Tenn.