4TROOPS' Concert Debut Draws Standing Ovation Aboard USS Intrepid
(March 27, 2010)
|NEW YORK (March 22, 2010 - ANS) -- Four former Soldiers from
the Army Entertainment Division drew a standing ovation
aboard the USS Intrepid during their inaugural concert taped
March 15 for a television show that will air in June on PBS.|
|4TROOPS vocalists Daniel Jens, David Clemo, Meredith Melcher and Ron Henry perform aboard the USS Intrepid in New York City during the March 15,
2010 taping of a PBS television special to be aired in June.
In only three months, 4TROOPS recorded its self-titled
debut album scheduled for release April 28. The hit
single, "For Freedom,"
will be released any day now. Their first television special
has been filmed and military installation and national
concert tours are being booked.|
U.S. Army Soldier Show Production Director Victor Hurtado
brought his prot�g�s together to assemble 4TROOPS and served
as associate producer for the album.
"It has a historic feel to have these four combat veterans
producing a product here on the USS Intrepid," Hurtado said.
"Everyone on the production team who has heard the album
says that it's easily the most believable, organic piece of
work that they've done - because it comes from them. There's
nothing strategic or put on about this record - it's them.
"They are incredible people, incredible former Soldiers,
incredible veterans. That's who they are, and it relates to
their lives, the lives of those that they served with, and
the lives of those who continue to serve."
The singing group's mission is to share the sacrificial
experiences of Soldiering and Army family life with the
world. Their emotionally patriotic songs share down-to-earth
military life tales that tug at the heartstrings and offer a
glimpse into the lives of servicemembers and their families.
"My hope through all of this is that we continue to touch
the lives of Americans, of Armed Forces, of people across
the world," said retired Staff Sgt. Ron Henry, who served 20
years on active duty and was one of five finalists in the
inaugural Military Idol competition of 2005. "If the world
could hear this CD, I want them to hear it because I want
them to feel the love and the camaraderie throughout this
whole project - that it brings a sense of peace, a sense of
closure, a sense of happiness to every Family member across
The Army Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation singing
contest, based on the premises of American Idol, since has
been renamed Operation Rising Star. Henry, who served as a
transport manager in Iraq with the 101st Airborne Division,
finds it hard to fathom how being a singing Soldier has
brought him full circle to realize a lifelong dream.
"Being deployed was a great experience for me," Henry said.
"It was fearful not knowing if you were going to see the
next day, not knowing when you were going to see your
friends. There were some friends over there that I did lose.
But I knew somewhere down deep in my heart that I had a
purpose. Not only to go over there, but using my talents and
the gifts that I feel God has given me to sing, to bring a
joy, a sense of encouragement when these Soldiers were down
and out and missing their families and loved ones. I knew I
was a part of that plan to help bring them over."
Henry's heart swells when he talks about the
"I listen to the album and it brings tears to my eyes
because I know we put our heart in it, we put our sweat in
it, we put every fiber of our being into this album to show
the love and support," he said. "I feel like I'm on the
other side now. I'm not active duty anymore, but I want to
thank all those servicemembers that are over in Iraq now,
that are getting ready to go, that are training to go - I
want to be the one now to say 'thank you' so that I can go
in my house and sleep at night knowing that they are doing
what they've been trained to do and they're doing it with
pride, dignity and integrity. I'm on the thankful side now,
and I want to say 'thank you' through this project."
Sgt. Daniel Jens, 36, finished 11th in "America's Got
Talent" during the summer of 2008. That autumn, he performed
for AED inside the Installation Management Command's booth
at the Association of the U.S. Army's annual convention in
Washington. He also performed at the 234th U.S. Army
Birthday Ball in the nation's capital.
"I've been playing guitar for about 15 years and singing for
as long as I can remember," said Jens, who was inspired to
join the Army at age 32 by the terrorist attacks of Sept.
11, 2001. "After 9/11, I wanted to do something greater with
my life, something that had meaning. Trying to chase that
rock-and-roll dream and living that party lifestyle just
wasn't doing me any good."
The dramatic lifestyle change landed Jens in Iraq from
October 2006 until January '08. "I'd probably say the first
month was a little scary," Jens said. "You've got mortars
dropping. You're driving convoy missions and you've got
bullets bouncing off your vehicle; IEDs exploding. You tend
to get a little used to it after awhile. The one thing I
didn't get used to, though, was being away from my wife and
kids. You never get used to that."
In Iraq, Jens became an Operation Happy Note star by
entertaining troops with his guitar after they returned from
missions in the field. He still cherishes his decision to
"I'm really glad that I did it," he said. "It's done me a
world of good."
Capt. Meredith Melcher and Sgt. David Clemo performed in the
2004 U.S. Army Soldier Show, an "entertainment for the
Soldier, by the Soldier" song-and-dance extravaganza that
annually tours the world. Clemo also served as assistant
director for two seasons.
"If I wouldn't have joined the military and been involved
with Army Entertainment, I wouldn't have learned both sides
of performing," Clemo said. "It gives me a better
appreciation for what I'm doing now. The skills I learned
there have made this so much easier for me. If I would never
have been in the show in 2004, I would have never worked
with Army Entertainment, and I would definitely not be
Clemo joked that it was much better being reunited with
Melcher in New York as opposed to Fort Belvoir, Va., because
"I don't have to salute her."
On a more serious note, Clemo recalled the 2005 experience
of deployment in Iraq, where he performed at numerous talent
shows, chaplain services and sang countless national
"If you have any type of singing ability or musical ability,
you become kind of a hot commodity because they are looking
for anything to boost morale because days get tough
sometimes," he said.
Clemo, 30, a native of Mount Vernon, Wash., prefers the
4TROOPS experience over life as a Soldier, but he realizes
that it is designed to give back.
"The best part of this whole project really is the positive
feel behind it," he said. "It's not politically tricky. It's
not trying to pull on heartstrings, although there
definitely is emotion to it. It's basically us saying we
understand what you're going through and bringing it across
to civilians who might not understand. It hopefully comes to
a point where everyone feels comfortable enough to say thank
"When people told me 'thank you,' I didn't feel like I
deserved it. On the other side, people didn't know how to
actually say 'thank you.' Hopefully, this will bridge that."
Melcher said she had to "grow up fast" as a young lieutenant
responsible for leading troops and handling medical supplies
on the front lines in Iraq. She also did a six-month tour of
"All of those skills I now take with me as a recording
artist because it's about building relationships and being
responsible for your actions," said Melcher, 29. "When
people tell you to be on time when going to the studio,
being on time and being respectful of other people's time
and experience and energy - really not taking anything for
granted and just being mindful of the whole process and
"Army Entertainment really took my performance to a whole
new level. I did some work in choirs and I directed an a
capella group in college, but Army Entertainment gave me the
skills that I needed to be a good performer and really put
on a show and get the audience motivated and entertained. It
certainly helped with my vocal ability, knowing my strengths
and weaknesses and knowing how to enhance those.
"They really gave me the professionalism to be able to do
what I'm doing now. You always hope to live your dream, but
the reality is most people don't. I can honestly say that
I'm living my dream and I think that's what makes this so
surreal. To actually say, 'I'm a professional singer,' it's
certainly a privilege and an honor."
Melcher's younger sister, Katie, 24, will perform in the
2010 U.S. Army Soldier Show. "The fact that she's doing this
and actually putting it on public display, I never thought
I'd see the day, but I couldn't be prouder," Meredith said.
"My parents are psyched, too. I will make time to go see her
The Soldier Show sister duo are daughters of Lt. Gen David
Melcher, who retired in 2008 from the Pentagon. He and his
wife were aboard the Intrepid for the show on Monday night.
"I couldn't be more proud of her being a part of this group
and what this group represents to all those that are serving
today and veterans and members of families who are all part
of this world we live in," he said. "This is a great group
and it means a lot to a lot of people."
While serving in Iraq, Henry realized how much his "gift"
meant to others when he sang at chaplain services and talent
"Every Sunday, I was music director for the chaplain," Henry
said. "We eventually moved from a tent when they contracted
Iraqis to build us an actual building. We had instruments,
drums, a piano, and we had a choir. And every Sunday we had
church. The Army attended to every Soldier's religious needs
and whatever they needed to survive. That was an outlet. And
it was packed every Sunday morning because they needed that
type of encouragement."
"I felt that I would have done myself an injustice and my
country and the people that I serve with an injustice not to
use what was given me to be a part of the solution to help
Soldiers get through that next week, get through that next
month, and then bring it back home."
"I'm so honored to have been able to do that. And now I feel
like if you give of yourself, eventually it will come back
to you. I feel like this opportunity has come back to me for
a dream come true. I can't even fathom now what I've seen -
all this being put together for the 4TROOPS. This dream is
being fulfilled and abundantly more. It's more than I ever
could have imagined what's taking place and happening to
Henry credits a lot of Army training for helping him find
the way to the bright lights of New York City.
"Discipline," he explained. "Being respectful of others; not
burning bridges; just trying to create peace and harmony no
matter what situation you're in. I'd rather show the world
that we are a team - Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast
Guard - we all serve a purpose and we couldn't do without
one or the other. We all need each other."
He also exhibits the kind of selflessness Soldiers are
trained to attain.
"I'm not even worried about myself," Henry said. "I'm doing
what I love to do. I feel like if I couldn't sing, I'd just
say, 'You can shoot me now.' I really would, because it's an
outlet for me. It's my comfort zone. I express myself
through song and I know I can capture a crowd and make them
understand and make them see what I've been through and what
these American Armed Forces servicemembers have been
Hurtado hopes to see the trend continue.
"This feels like a pavement project for future troops," he
concluded. "It feels like it's paving the way because it's
solid and it's real and it's good. Hopefully, we'll have
other veterans and troop artists following in their
Article and photo by Tim Hipps
U.S. Army FMWRC Public Affairs
Army News Service
See the video of 4TROOPS performing their inspiring hit
single, "For Freedom"
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