By Staff Sergeant Christopher Bauchle, 405 ECES/firefighter/USAF
I will be spending Christmas this year at an Air Force base in an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia. The base is a tent city. Even though it’s snowing back in the states, it typically gets up to 100 degrees here during the day. I am one of the 700 airmen who will be spending this holiday season 8000 miles away from home.
I enlisted in the US Air Force my senior year of high school. When I left for basic training the week after graduation, I don’t think it was a surprise to anyone. It sounds cheesy, but God placed the calling on my heart to serve my friends, my family, and my country by taking my turn to defend our nation’s freedom. My Dad had fought in Vietnam, my Dad’s dad fought in World War II and my Mom’s dad fought in the Korean Conflict. Words like duty and honor have always meant allot to me and I am incredibly proud to be a part of a heritage of men who have felt the same way.
I joined the Air Force Reserve so that I could still have the opportunity to pursue a career with my band, Same As Sunday. We started playing music in 2004. Before I left for basic training and tech school in 2006, we wrote and released a 5-song EP titled “Farewell For Awhile”. We handed it out to our friends and family; promising great things to come. At first, I was a little skeptical about being able to balance the military lifestyle with my dreams in the world of music. The stories of servicemen/musicians like Elvis, and oddly enough, MC Hammer were inspiring to me. When I returned in 2007, Kyle and Andy dropped out of college and we began touring. In 2008, our weekend “mini-tours” grew into full-fledged coast-to-coast tours. Making sure that I was back at the base once a month for drill, we spent most of 2009-Spring of 2010 in our van; living off Ramen Noodles and loving every second of it. In that time, we released two additional records, played hundreds of shows, and made thousands of friends across the country; completely independently.
Early this summer, my unit-the 434th Civil Engineering Squadron, was tasked with filling 5 slots in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. When I received my official orders for the mobilization, the band quickly put the finishing touches on the CD we’d been working on and set out to New York to record. We returned on a Saturday, shot a music video on Sunday, and I shipped out first thing that Monday. We decided to use the song “Earn Your Stripes” as the title track. Not only did we feel that it was a fitting name for the record, but that it’s also how we’ve accomplished things as a band. The song is about having complete trust in God and giving every ounce of yourself to something you’ve been called to do. Our hope is that our songs and our story will inspire people to remember the real reason for the season this Christmas.