Marine Puts Music Career On Hold To Serve In Afghanistan
(July 13, 2011)
Sgt. Sean P. Castaneda and his band, “550,” perform Lynyrd Skynyrd's,
“Simple Man” during 2011 Fourth of July festivities at Camp
Leatherneck, Helmand province. Castaneda, originally from Cheyenne,
Wyo., is an imagery analyst in the Marine Corps Reserve, who is
pursuing a musical career in Hollywood, Calif.
CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan (MCN - 7/11/2011) — Whether Sgt. Sean
Castaneda is recording an album in Hollywood, Calif., or providing
imagery intelligence to troops on the ground in the desert of
southern Afghanistan, serving his country while pursuing his music
dreams are just another day.
Castaneda, 23, originally from
Cheyenne, Wyo., enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve in 2006 as an
imagery analyst with 4th Marine Logistics Group. He is currently
deployed with 2nd Intelligence Battalion, Regional Command
Southwest. As an imagery analyst, Castaneda's job is to provide eyes
in areas troops on the ground may not be able to see, allowing them
to know what to expect in areas not visible. This gives coalition
forces in the fight the advantage of being able to see the unknown,
lowering their chances of taking casualties.
“Think of it as
Google Earth,” Castaneda said. “We provide eyes for overhead.
Whether it be for a helicopter landing, route plan or a raid.”
“After 9/11, I had it in me that I wanted to serve and do my
part for my country,” he continued. “I just didn't know exactly what
I wanted to do.”
After tossing around the idea of being a
pilot, then changing his mind to wanting to be a paratrooper, he
finally decided to join the Marine Corps.
grandfathers served in the Navy, one during World War II and the
other during the Korean War. He joked they would be proud to know he
is serving his country, but they would have teased him for not
joining the Navy.
One of his grandfathers, Jerry, flew B-24 Liberators in the
Korean War and served as a major inspiration for Castaneda
before he passed away.|
“I know a lot of my
fascination with the military came from him,” he explained.
“I wanted to be a pilot for a while because I know he worked
on a [B-24 Liberator]. He was a musician too.”
Whether inherited or not, music would become a passion of
Castaneda's as well.
In 2009, Castaneda deployed to
Africa aboard the USS Nashville. A morale event during this
tour helped inspire him to pursue his dreams of making music
into a career.
“We had the Nashville Idol, which was
a spin off American Idol, and I won,” Castaneda explained.
“When I won that, it built up my confidence to move to
Hollywood to try and make it as a musician.”
2010, he packed up his car and hit the road for the
Hollywood hills. When he got there, he started school at the
Musicians Institute and began recording his first album.
After six months in the recording studio and getting his
band, Hollywood's Angels, gigs at venues such as Liam's Pub
and the Pig ‘n' Whistle, he released his debut album, a solo
rock effort titled “Enjoy the Ride.”
times when I would spend only two hours in the studio
recording a guitar or bass track, and then there would be
times I would spend four hours recording one vocal for the
entire song,” he explained. “Toward the end of the album
there was one day I spent nearly 12 hours finishing up
mixing the songs and making sure everything was in its
proper place. I don't think people realize just how much
effort is needed and is put into recording one song.”
With his first album completed, Castaneda found himself
feeling restless – he wanted to deploy.
wanted to deploy to Afghanistan. I've always volunteered for
every opportunity to get out here,” he said. “When my
reserve unit had an opening, I volunteered for it. It's part
of the Marine mindset, to deploy, get out there and do
Now deployed, when Castaneda is not busy
providing intelligence support, he gives guitar lessons to
fellow Marines and sailors and works on his music chops for
a planned second album. Recently he performed during Camp
Leatherneck's Independence Day festivities.
and everything I've learned in the Marine Corps has
definitely been used outside of it, especially in
Hollywood,” he said. “The motivation, dedication and chasing
have definitely given me the confidence to just pack up and
chase my dreams.”
He uses his experiences both within
the Corps and in Hollywood to be a leader his Marines look
up to, said Cpl. Mark Uribe, an intelligence analyst from
“Sgt. Castaneda is an excellent
Marine and a good guy”, said Uribe. “He looks out for his
junior Marines and ways to help us excel in our Marine Corps
careers. He treats us all with the utmost respect and falls
along the lines of treating everyone the way you want to be
Castaneda looks forward to returning to
California in the coming months to begin work on his second
“This time, I have been working on my
songwriting skills and trying to be a little more gritty, a
little more to the point and true to the rebellious nature
of youth,” Castaneda explained. “Think Motley Crue meets
Guns ‘n' Roses in 2011.”
Article and photo by USMC Cpl. Katherine Keleher|
II MEF (FWD)
Marine Corps News
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