Face of Defense: Soldier Sings His Way Through Deployment
By Army Sgt. Daniel Blottenberger
Special to American Forces Press Service
BAGHDAD, Aug. 28, 2008 He began his singing career by singing gospel music at his local church in Indianapolis when he was only 4 years old. Now, at 21, he finds himself on center stage, showing off his vocal abilities.
“It is just something I love to do,” said Sgt. Victor Cole, who enlisted in the Army as a human resources specialist in 2005. “Singing and writing music calms me down, and is just something I do that gets my mind off of the everyday stresses of being deployed.”
Since arriving in Iraq in December 2007 with Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 716th Military Police Battalion, Cole takes care of his battalion’s human resources needs and sings the national anthem at ceremonies his battalion conducts.
Cole’s brigade command sergeant major noticed his talents quickly during a noncommissioned officer induction ceremony.
“When I was told Cole was going to sing the national anthem at the induction ceremony, I was concerned,” admitted Army Command Sgt. Maj. Bernard McPherson, a native of Orangeburg, S.C. “I had never heard him sing a note, and the significance of the national anthem sung in a cappella was strategic.”
McPherson, however, was reassured by Cole’s battalion command sergeant major that he had nothing to worry about.
“I was still nervous,” McPherson said, “until I heard him sing a few notes in rehearsal. All it took for me to hear were a few notes. After hearing Cole’s melodic, clear and rich voice, my worries were belayed.”
McPherson said Cole is a gifted and talented NCO, and that he expects an “American Idol” tryout is in his future.
“My lifelong goal is to become a professional singer,” Cole said. “I plan to attend the 2009 American Idol competition when I return from my Iraq tour.”
While deployed, Cole said, he finds himself singing all day long at work, and when he gets time off, he sings competitively at the Morale, Welfare and Recreation centers on the camp.
Cole has won karaoke competitions at some of the Victory Base Complex MWR sponsored events, but that doesn’t compare to some of the events he has performed at in the past. Cole has sung at events such as the Olympic trials in 2004 in Indianapolis, Indiana Pacers National Basketball Association games and Indianapolis Colts National Football League games, and he said one of his biggest accomplishments was winning a Show Time singing competition at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, N.Y.
“When I was younger, singing was just something I did because I loved doing it,” he said. “Now it is completely different. I want to make a career out of it.”
Cole said he has made a few changes in his military career to improve his chances of becoming a professional singer.
“I love my job in the Army,” said Cole, “but I’ve always wanted to be a singer. I had the chance to go overseas on assignment, but I changed that to stay in the states so I could audition for American Idol.”
Even though Cole said he loves both singing and being a part of the military, he still feels they are two very separate worlds for him, though he’s been successful in both.
“My biggest accomplishment in the Army is getting promoted to the rank of sergeant,” he said of his recent promotion.
He said he decided to join the Army because of the stability that comes with being in the Army for military families. “I joined the Army in my junior year of high school in order to support my now-3-year-old daughter,” said Cole, who re-enlisted recently to serve for another six years.
He feels that even though it is music that drives him to get through the long 15-month deployment, his daughter gives him the passion to continue with both careers.
“Music is what drives me to continue, as well as the passion that I have to provide a good life for my daughter,” he said.
(Army Sgt. Daniel Blottenberger serves in Multinational Division Baghdad with the 18th Military Police Brigade Public Affairs Office.)