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Airman keys in on Tops in Blue

  • Published
  • By by Airman 1st Class Elliott Sprehe
  • 27th 27th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
Range, dexterity, and patience are some traits that make for a well-trained security forces Airman. For one such Airman here, musical abilities should be added to that list of traits as well.

Senior Airman Mark Maddon, 27th Special Operations Security Forces Squadron, uses those traits to enhance his life both professionally and recreationally, whether he is on duty as a security forces Airman or as an active pianist who was recently selected to play with the Air Force's premiere performance team, Tops in Blue, during its 2008 tour.

"His selection is a great honor. Not many folks get selected," said Maj. Damian Schlussel, 27 SOSFS commander.

Airman Maddon first began his love of keyboards at the young age of six. After being involved in a minor car accident, the doctors wanted to improve the dexterity of his hands.

"One of the ways to practice using both my hands, they told me was to take up an instrument like the piano," said Airman Maddon. "I trained in classic music until I was 18, so I try to draw from Beethoven, Mozart, and others."

Airman Maddon said the piano acts as a stress-reliever for him. While he "pounds away" at the keys, he feels more relaxed.

Having spent more than 20 years playing the instrument he loves and practicing as much as possible, Airman Maddon's skills on the ivory and ebony keys are evident to anyone who hears him play. This skill obviously also impressed the Tops in Blue selection team enough to ask him to perform with them for a year.

"He had a hidden talent that a lot of us didn't know about. Once we heard him play, it's no surprise that he got picked," said Major Schlussel.

Had Airman Maddon not been made aware of Tops in Blue, he might not have taken advantage of the opportunity to try out.

"I was in Baghdad last year and played piano at the chapel where Tops in Blue was also performing," said Airman Maddon.

That was where he first noticed Tops in Blue. He was unable to watch them perform because he was on duty, but the seed was planted.

"Some folks have a talent and they don't want to pursue it," said Major Schlussel. "Airman Maddon really wanted to try something different. He wanted to excel and pursue one of his dreams."

When Airman Maddon returned to Cannon, one of his supervisors informed him of Tops in Blue's upcoming scheduled performance in Clovis, N.M., and also of tryouts that would be held before the performance.

"I found out about the tryouts just a couple of weeks before they were due, so I didn't have much time to prepare for it," said Airman Maddon, who put together an audition video.

He learned about his selection for the 14-month TDY when he was told to report to Senior Master Sgt. Troy Gilliard, 27 SOSFS' former operations superintendent.

"I was nervous; I didn't know what was going on so I thought I was in trouble," said Airman Maddon. "When I got there, I sat down was instead told that I got accepted."

"Words cannot explain how excited I am to go," said Airman Maddon. "Having been deployed I know what it's like to be away from home. It's nice to have groups like Tops in Blue to come and perform and bring (to Airmen) a small piece of home."

"The support for him has been overwhelming and we wish him a lot of luck," added Major Schlussel.

Hundreds of Airmen, both officer and enlisted, try out each year for Tops in Blue, which performs at more than 100 locations worldwide. Fewer than 50 Airmen are chosen from across the entire Air Force.