KIRKUK, Iraq – Soldiers, Airmen, and civilian contractors stationed at Forward Operating Base Warrior kicked off their Memorial Day weekend with a bang.
“Gospel Explosion: The Memorial Day Weekend Praisefest” began the holiday festivities with singing, dancing, and a special Memorial Day sermon.
More than 200 people attended the event, with nearly fifty being part of the Fijian choir. This group of civilian contractors from the Pacific Island of Fiji performed two songs to a packed house. The group of tall men, many wearing colorful Hawaiian-style shirts, harmonized their deep voices beautifully. Both songs were rewarded with standing ovations from the gathered crowd.
The lineup of other acts featured singing from the Gospel Praise Team and dance performances by the Heart and Soul Dancers.
Capt. Bret Reeves, Aviation Physician’s Assistant with 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry, 101st Airborne Division, delivered the closing sermon to close the event.
Reeves, an associate pastor at the Greater Missionary Baptist Church in Clarksville, Tenn., and an experienced public speaker nevertheless, described speaking to such a large crowd as scary. “Every time you are dealing with a large group of people like that it is a great responsibility that I take very seriously.”
According to Reeves, preparing for such a responsibility requires prayer. “Much prayer,” said Reeves.
For his ministry, Reeves said that he always seeks to bring, “Hope to the hopeless, healing to the hurt and salvation to the lost.”
SGT Victor Will, Chaplain’s Assistant, 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, was instrumental in organizing the event and making sure that all went well.
“We planned for this for over a month, beginning after Easter,” said Will, and added that for every event that takes place, the organizers and volunteers learn from the experience and build on past successes.
Will said that he worked closely with personnel from the Air Force contingent on the base as well as with civilian contractors to pull the event off. “This was a very coordinated effort from all the services staff,” said Will.
“These events are always well received by soldiers and are very important to them,” said Will. “A lot of people were really excited by the event and want us to do something like this on a regular basis.”