FRANCIS E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. - It started at age 5,
when he was given a choice for Christmas gifts.
"My mom was
like, you can do martial arts, or play guitar," he said. "I got a
guitar for Christmas."
22 years old, Airman 1st Class Dylan Westmoreland, 90th Security
Forces Squadron defender and Antlers, Oklahoma, native, has been
pursuing his dream of country music stardom since then.
an album release, he is hoping it will give him the credibility he
needs to fulfill his musical aspirations.
"I'm excited for him," said Airman 1st Class
Chris Bartling, a friend and fellow 90th SFS defender. "I believe
he's talented, determined and driven enough [to] succeed. I can't
wait to be there when it happens, not only because I care about him,
[but also because of the] struggle he has gone through to get to
where he is."
Westmoreland said he chose the guitar
because he was inspired by watching his uncle, Tim Westmoreland,
play. He started taking guitar lessons shortly after that Christmas,
but sadly those guitar lessons were short-lived, as he would later
be forced to quit.
"At about 8, I quit going to lessons," he
said. "The car broke down and we couldn't go back and forth [to
This setback did not stop Westmoreland from
practicing what he already learned.
"I kept playing, I kept
picking it up, I kept messing around with the guitar," he said. "I
started listening to the radio and taught myself how to play from
From the age of 8, Westmoreland continued to build on
the foundation of what he had learned. He began to regularly sing
and play in church throughout his childhood.
He gained public
attention for his musical abilities when he played in his high
school's jazz band, he recalled.
His teachers, recognizing
his musical talent, collaborated with school officials and scheduled
Westmoreland to play for Antlers High School's veterans memorial
program to honor veterans. Westmoreland was asked to cover a Toby
Keith song, but he had his own plan.
"I wrote my own song,"
he said. "It was called 'Pledge of Allegiance to the Soldiers,' and
I played that at the memorial program. That's when I started getting
noticed. That's when I started playing shows - talent shows, and
things like that."
After winning second place in his region
for the largest country music talent show, called Country Showdown,
he began booking regular gigs in a local casino after high school.
It wasn't until spring 2011, when he submitted an audio file of
a song he wrote entitled, "Country to the Bone," to a local music
group in Oklahoma, that Westmoreland saw a glimmer of hope in
getting his music out to the country music world.
completely forgot I had sent anything to them," he said. "About
eight months later, I got a call."
The music group showed
interest in his music and explained how they could assist in his
musical endeavors, he said. They wanted to eventually help record an
album for him when the time was right. That time would not be until
As time passed, circumstances in his life at
that time spurred Westmoreland to consider military service.
"I had been thinking about joining the military for a while," he
said. "I was working in the oil fields, and wanted some stability.
I've seen a whole crew get fired on the spot"
enlisted in the Air Force in March 2014, to become a security forces
Airman. After completing basic training and technical school, he was
contacted again by the music group letting him know they were ready
for him to come in the studio to record his album.
really excited," he said. "This was my chance finally, to be able to
record an album."
Upon completion of the album, Westmoreland
arrived at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in December and transitioned
into base defense operations.
"He's an all-around good
[Airman]," said Senior Airman Anthony McCord, Westmoreland's
Once McCord became Westmoreland's supervisor, he
recognized Westmoreland as a "unique individual with a lot of
"He acts like a singer," he said.
Standing at 6 feet and 3 inches, with a slender, athletic build,
Westmoreland looks like a country singer too.
expressed a sense of relief when he completed his album with eight
"I finally made it a step towards actually
getting the album done and getting that publicity and somebody
behind me," he said. "It's very hard to get anybody behind you
With a recorded studio album ready to be released
and the support of the music group back home in Oklahoma, he hopes
the album release will be the push he needs to get brand-name
Bartling further expressed his support for
Westmoreland after having heard the album.
"I was highly
impressed with it," Bartling said. "Westmoreland always told me he
was a good singer and songwriter. He's my friend and I took his word
for it, but then, when I sat down and heard it, I was like, this
should be on the radio."
U.S. Air Force Article and photo by Lan Kim
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