By 2nd Lt. Anthony D. Buchanan, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
TIKRIT, Iraq – Soldiers who work in Building 1701 at Contingency Operating Base Speicher get to view the breath-taking scenery of its courtyard on a daily basis. In addition to the privilege of seeing green grass, pink roses and palm trees, Soldiers occasionally get the privilege of one other thing – the music from a young lady’s flute.
Known to some Soldiers simply as “flute girl,” Sgt. Erica J. Coutsouridis, a flutist in the 101st Airborne Division Band, frequents the courtyard to improve her skills during her free time.
“I was worried when we first got here that playing in the courtyard would bother people, but a lot of people come up to me and say, ‘That sounds nice,'” said Coutsouridis, a native of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
With the weather becoming more summer-like and the heat increasing, the gazebo in the courtyard is a great place to sit down, cool off and relax.
“The roses smell nice, it’s shady and there aren’t many good places to go and practice with air conditioning,” said Coutsouridis. “I like to come out at least three or four times a week.
“I can come out here and play in the morning before it gets too hot and it’s not too bad.”
Coutsouridis has been playing the flute since she was in the fourth grade. She played the flute for the Regis High School Marching Band in Cedar Rapids, and has earned a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in Flute Performance. After college, she decided to enlist in the U.S. Army.
“The Army was appealing to me, and it was a way to pay off my loans,” said Coutsouridis.
Some people may think the band only performs at concerts and ceremonies, but that isn’t their only mission.
“The band’s secondary mission is to augment security. When we’re not playing, we’re doing guard duty; nothing too exciting and nothing too dangerous,” said Coutsouridis. “We occasionally perform odd jobs, like putting up concertina wire, if needed.”
The Army also led her to meeting the love of her life. She married her husband, Chris Coutsouridis, a drummer with the 1st Infantry Division’s Band, in June of 2005 before coming on her first deployment.
“After we both had orders, we decided that we wanted to get married,” said Coutsouridis. “They couldn’t put us together right away so we’re just waiting it out.”
After Coutsouridis finishes her military career, she wants become a music teacher. Until then, Soldiers will continue to hear remarkable pieces played by “flute girl” in the courtyard of Building 1701.