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Face of Defense: Soldier-songwriter Serves in Afghanistan

By Army Pfc. Christopher Holton
Task Force Duke

KHOST PROVINCE, Afghanistan, Aug. 19, 2011 – A soldier serving in Task Force Duke here leads a double life.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Army Pfc. Zachary William Charles Short strums his guitar in the motor pool at Combat Outpost Herrera, Afghanistan, Aug. 14, 2011. Short, under the stage name Zac Charles, has written and recorded several country music songs. Courtesy photo
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

In his Army life, Pfc. Zachary William Charles Short is a combat medic with the 1st Infantry Division’s Battery A, 1st Battalion, 6th Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team. But the 22-year-old native of Bend, Ore., records music under the stage name Zac Charles, and his single “Until I Get Home” became the third-most-requested song on country music radio stations in the Elizabethtown, Ky., area.

This is an accomplishment in its own right for any aspiring musician, but judging by the number of fans he’s amassed, it may be only the beginning of Short’s musical journey.

Short said he began writing music at age 12, and that he grew up listening to country music artists such as Brad Paisley, Tim McGraw, Dierks Bentley and Jeremy Camp. Like that of many other artists, he said, his music reflects his life experiences.

“I write about things I see and feel around me,” he explained. I think music turns out better that way.”

Short said he put his music career aspirations on hold when he joined the Army at age 19 to support his family, because his wife and son are the most important aspects of his life.

“My wife has been a big inspiration for a lot of my songs,” he said.

But today, his military duties and missions come first, he added.

“It has been interesting to see my military career form,” he said, “and I have learned so much.”

Writing and playing music in Afghanistan helps to lift his and other soldier’s spirits, Short said.

“My morale has improved greatly being able to do music out here,” Short said. “I have also had the opportunity to improve the morale of the soldiers around me. On many occasions, a bunch of us have sat around at night after missions and sang a few songs.”

Short said his music serves as a constant reminder of how much he loves and misses his family. “I wrote [“Until I Get Home”] when I was away from my wife, and it reflects on the feeling I had then,” he said.

While in Afghanistan, Short acquired another supporter: U.S. Army Sgt. Joshua Bova, a Houston native and fellow soldier in Battery A. Bova said he became an instant fan after hearing Short’s music.

“He could be an instant star in the world of country music,” Bova said of Short’s potential. “He just needs to be heard.”

Upon returning from deployment, Bova plans to be part of Short’s public relations team. “Good Morning America” producers, he said, have expressed interest in having Short appear on the program.

Bova said he hopes Short can obtain a record deal, “so people who haven’t heard him can, and so his fans can hear him more often.”

Short said he plans to record some tracks in Nashville, Tenn., shortly after he returns to the United States from Afghanistan. “I’ve got a good studio lined up, and I’ll be excited to start recording,” he said.

 

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