By Demi Cruz
In an effort to honor those who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, Navy Community Recreation hosted the Salute to Heroes Concert Nov. 11 aboard NAS Jacksonville.
The free concert was open to all military personnel, authorized base patrons and even included special guests from Gold Star Families and Vietnam Veterans from the local Association of Naval Aviation Bald Eagle Squadron.
The concert kicked off just after colors at 6 p.m. beginning with country music artist Steve Moakler. Earlier this year in March, Moakler released his debut country EP, which includes his lead radio single, "Suitcase."
Soon after Moakler's performance, country music artist Clare Dunn took the stage. Dunn rose to fame as the highest charting independent female artist in the past decade on the Music Row Country Breakout chart after the release of her debut single, "Get Out."
The ladies in the audience shrieked and sang along with Dunn about the attractiveness of a hard-working man over a man in a suit during the performance of her hit song, "Tuxedo."
Just before the final act, NAS Jax Commanding Officer Capt. Sean P. Haley addressed the crowd of nearly 3,500 patrons to thank everyone for their attendance. Haley took time to recognize the Gold Star Family members and Vietnam Veterans who were present, as well.
Gold Star Family member and Navy retiree Sonny McClintock attended the concert in honor of his fallen son, Sgt. 1st Class Matthew McClintock of the Army Special Forces, who was killed in action in an effort to save a wounded comrade in Afghanistan in January of this year.
"He's always been my hero," said McClintock. "We have to carry on his legacy and honor him as much as we can."
McClintock was one of many Gold Star Family members that provided the band members of Old Dominion with insight to just how much their performance meant to the veterans and military personnel of NAS Jax during the meet and greet.
In a pre-concert interview, multi-instrumentalist Trevor Rosen said, "We play music for a living, so anytime we get to give back to the people who are deserving and the people who have given us the freedom to do what we do, it's a special thing."
Bassist Geoff Sprung shared his personal connection to the base as his father was part of the commands VP-30 and VP-24 previously.
"He told me we had to do a great job," said Sprung, in regards to their performance for the evening.
Once Haley announced Old Dominion, the crowd roared with excitement and anticipation. The five-member country music band kicked off the performance with their RIAA certified Gold hit "Snapback."
Fans sang, danced and cheered while band members threw guitar picks and reached for the outstretched hands of the crowd.
Old Dominion was called back for an encore and finished off the night performing their song "Wrong Turns."
Just as the concert concluded, an explosion of fireworks lit up the night sky. The 15-minute show included a musical soundtrack featuring popular patriotic songs, such as "R.O.C.K. In the U.S.A.," "You're a Grand Old Flag" and "God Bless the U.S.A." Families huddled together in the cool night as the blaze of fireworks erupted in the sky.
The Morale, Welfare & Recreation (MWR) Department wishes to thank all of the staff and volunteers who made this event possible. Thank you to the Salute to Heroes Concert sponsors WQIK, Gator Country, VyStar Credit Union, USAA, MetroPCS, Global Diamonds, AT&T, Boomerang Air Charter and General Motors.
The Department of the Navy does not endorse any company, sponsor or their products or services.