|SAN ANTONIO, Oct. 30, 2006 —
Armed with his weapon, Staff Sgt. Terry Grace faces down the menace that destroyed his cousin's life.
Grace is the bass player for Reserve Generation, the Air Force Reserve Command Band from Robins Air Force Base, Ga., which entertained more than 500 local elementary school students at the Trinity University auditorium here Oct. 25 and taught them about being drug-free.
The group, which entertained the audience with a mixture of 14 top children's musical, hits, dancing and an elaborate lightshow, performed in celebration of Red Ribbon week.
The anti-drug campaign is something Grace said he takes seriously. He has seen firsthand the devastation drugs can cause. The sergeant has a cousin who had everything going for him in life - a wife, four kids and a successful military career. All were taken away from him because of drugs.
"He was brilliant and could do anything he put his mind to, but the drugs destroyed him," Grace said.
When Grace sees a crowd of children waiting for him to perform, he said it is a chance to use the lessons he learned from his cousin to prevent it from happening to the next generation.
"The thing about these kids is that they are very bright and they have a lot of energy," he said. "You want to influence them in a positive way and give them the power to make the right decisions in life."
The group travels across the country educating thousands of students. Grace said he feels fortunate to do his job.
""It started as a directive from our headquarters," he said. "But, because I have a personal relationship with someone that succumbed to drugs, the show became more personal and the message the Air Force wants to get out to the children is the same message I want to get out."