4th Inf. Div. Latin Band Keeps Morale Up in Style

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Cold weather in Baghdad is not an excuse to miss the ravishing-hot sounds of ‘Ritmo Latino’ (Latin Rhythm) ensemble, as it performed in front of eager spectators at the Division Morale, Welfare and Recreation tent, Jan.17.

The group is part of the various musical ensembles that comprise the 4th Infantry Division Band, each one with a different musical style, but all with the same mission.

“Our main purpose here is to give the audience a chance to get away from their daily routine and stress, and enjoy their evening in a very nice way,” said Sgt. Luis Feliciano, a San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico native, bass player and director of the ensemble. “This way we help keep the morale up while performing.”

Members of the Armed Forces and civilians deployed into Iraq gathered around at the Division Morale, Welfare and Recreation tent to and enjoy the Latin rhythms of Ritmo Latino ensemble.
Members of the Armed Forces and civilians deployed into Iraq gathered around at the Division Morale, Welfare and Recreation tent to and enjoy the Latin rhythms of ‘Ritmo Latino’ ensemble, Jan. 17. ‘Ritmo Latino’ is part of the 4th Infantry Division Band and plays the Caribbean rhythms of Salsa, Merengue, Bachata and Reggaeton. (U.S. Army photo by: Staff Sgt. Luis Orengo, MultiNational Division – Baghdad Public Affairs)

‘Ritmo Latino’ ensemble musicians are from Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and places as far away as Bolivia and Puerto Rico, all of them are members of the 4th Infantry Division Band.

“After our last deployment in Iraq the ensemble lost 70 per cent of its members due to moving and changes,” said Feliciano. “This group is basically a new one and we have been practicing for the last eight months, we have come a long way in order to please our audience.”

Spc. Ellington Zimmerman, of Dothan, Ala., performs a solo in the timbales drums during the performance of the Ritmo Latino ensemble
Spc. Ellington Zimmerman, a Dothan, Ala. native, performs a solo in the timbales drums during the performance of the ‘Ritmo Latino’ ensemble at the Division Morale, Welfare and Recreation tent, Jan. 17. ‘Ritmo Latino’ is part of the 4th Infantry Division Band and plays the Caribbean rhythms of Salsa, Merengue, Bachata and Reggaeton.

For a little more than two hours the crowd was delighted in listening at the swing of Merengue, Salsa, Bachata and Reaggeton, strange musical terms in the English dictionary, that gave the audience the opportunity to travel to far away places without leaving Iraq.

“Experiences like this one are special because it helps to bond Soldiers, Marines, Airmen, Sailors and civilians in a special way. It really is an important morale event for every one,” said Air Force Capt. Hallie Day, a Lancaster, Calif., native and currently with Multi-National Force-Iraq.

Spc. Danny Gonzalez and Sgt. Luis Feliciano of the Ritmo Latino ensemble and natives of Puerto Rico, sing to Capt. Becky Siu.
Spc. Danny Gonzalez (left) and Sgt. Luis Feliciano (right) both members of the ‘Ritmo Latino’ ensemble and natives of Puerto Rico, enjoy a moment singing to Capt. Becky Siu (center), Plans and Operation Officer, 4th Inf. Div., Division Special Troops Batallion, a Salsa music standard call ‘Ojos Chinos’ (Chinese Eyes) during the ensemble performance at the Division Morale, Welfare and Recreation tent, Jan. 17. ‘Ritmo Latino’ is part of the 4th Infantry Division Band and plays the Caribbean rhythms of Salsa, Merengue, Bachata and Reggaeton. (U.S. Army photo by: Staff Sgt. Luis Orengo, MultiNational Division – Baghdad Public Affairs)

Music doesn’t have race, language or religious preference so for the members of the 4th Inf. Div. Band ‘Ritmo Latino’ ensemble the purpose of bringing a little joy to every one is worth the effort.

“We are musicians and this is what we do, bringing joy and entertainment here or any where it’s needed,” said Feliciano. “We are doing it for everybody deployed here and if they dance, laugh and enjoy themselves with our performance then we have done our job right”.

By Staff Sgt. Luis Orengo

Military Friends of NewsBlaze originated these stories, sending them directly to us from Iraq, some from Afghanistan and some in the USA.