Musical maintainer

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Sergio A. Gamboa
  • 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Staff Sgt. Brian Pop's, 325th Maintenance Squadron armament maintenance team chief, primary duties are repairing and maintaining F-22 weapons equipment and armament suspension equipment.

However, when he is not maintaining the fifth-generation aircraft, he is lending his voice to the Air Force mission.

Pop, born in Columbus, Ohio, wanted to work with aircraft or anything to do with aircraft as a kid.

"My dad was in the Air Force, and when I was younger he used to take me to air shows," he said. "He was able to get me up close to the jets, and I got to meet pilots and maintainers. It seemed like a blast to do what they did every day."

Pop didn't recognize his musical ability until after graduating high school when his friends forced him to sing karaoke one night.

"I remember the first song I ever sang on a microphone was, 'Be My Baby Tonight,' by John Michael Montgomery," he said.

Before coming to Tyndall, Pop was stationed at Nellis AFB, Nev. While there, he was a Kenny Chesney impersonator in downtown Las Vegas for more than five years.

"It was one of my favorite experiences ever," Pop said. "Being able to perform in Vegas and having my picture on a billboard was awesome. The people I worked with were the greatest group of people and a second family to me."

Pop loves performing for family and friends and loves singing for them and the audience.

"Watching everyone sing along and having a great time motivates me," he said. "Being able to sing songs people haven't heard in a while, and just looking at their reaction when the song first starts are great. I love the crowd interaction; it always looks like they're having so much fun from the stage."

One of his biggest fans was his mother, who recently lost her battle against cancer in August. Every time Pop went on leave he would take his mother out to karaoke and sing whatever song she requested.

"My mother was my biggest inspiration," Pop said. "She just loved hearing me sing, and it made her so proud. I was always happy to see that look on her face whenever she saw me sing."

Pop continues to pursue his love of music wherever the Air Force takes him. While with the 823rd Special Operations Rescue Squadron at Nellis, he deployed overseas to Camp Taji and secured withdraw of the last military troops stationed in Iraq and performed the National Anthem at the de-activation ceremony.

He also was deployed to an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia where he participated in "Desert Idol" and took first place.

"I won the base level competition and made the regional finals," Pop said. "I sang 'Party Rock Anthem' and the place exploded. I don't think there was a single person sitting down in their seat. Everyone had a blast and I ended up taking first place."

Pop was selected as Tyndall's representative for the Air Combat Command level Academy of Country Music's "Salute to the Military" special in Las Vegas.

"As soon as I heard his name come up for the event, I supported it one hundred percent," said Col. Cutis Hafer, 325th Maintenance Group commander. "He is very smart when it comes to his work and knows how to enforce the standards amongst the Airmen at his shop. He is very professional in every aspect."

Getting to perform at the "Salute to the Military" would be one of the greatest experiences of his life, said Pop.

"I hope he gets the opportunity to perform for 'Salute to the Military'," Hafer said. "I would tell him to go out and have a good time, enjoy the event but be a professional, be yourself and show people what we have here at Tyndall."

Pop echoed his sentiment.

"My advice to young Airmen or anybody is to practice daily on whatever your dream is," said Pop. "Find a positive role model. Work hard and never let anyone tell you that you can't do anything to accomplish your dream."