Tops in Blue Features One of Buckley’s Own
By Janet Watkins, 460th Space Wing Public Affairs
/ Published February 16, 2011
02/16/2011 -- On Sunday, Feb 20, at 2:00 p.m., Team Buckley will have the opportunity to enjoy top flight entertainment in a most interesting venue. The Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum will host the Tops in Blue Performance Troupe and present to Buckley Air Force Base, one of her own.
SSgt. James Alston is a Space Systems Operations Journeyman assigned to the 460th Operations Support Squadron. But, for this, the 55th season of Tops in Blue, he is traveling with the troupe, performing as a vocalist.
The 460th Space Wing Public Affairs office tracked down SSgt Alston as the Tops in Blue tour bus headed towards Hill AFB and yet another performance...
460 SW/PA: Tell us about how the third time is a charm - this was your third attempt at making the team and touring with Tops in Blue.
SSgt. Alston: I made the team in '08, but I was unable to go. I tried out in '09 and didn't make it. In '10 I actually made the team and was able to go on the tour."
460 SW/PA: Has the real experience of Tops in Blue measured up to what you dreamed it would be?
SSgt. Alston: "It actually has. I've met good people I wouldn't trade meeting for the world. I've gone places I've never gone before. I'd never been overseas, and I've gotten to visit Germany, France, Spain, Iraq and Afghanistan. This is stuff I'd never thought I'd be doing. Plus, I got to sing America the Beautiful at this year's Super Bowl. It was the pre-game show and we sang with Lea Michele from the show 'Glee.' It was interesting that we got to do something Tops in Blue hadn't done in 25 years, the second time they'd actually been on the field at the Super Bowl."
460 SW/PA: Are you tired of eating on the road yet?
SSgt. Alston: "We do get home cooked meals, because a lot of the places we go, people appreciate that we're there. A lot of times the spouses clubs and other groups will bring home-cooked food."
460 SW/PA: Do you miss your old job?
SSgt. Alston: "I do miss my old job, and I've visited a lot of the bases I could be stationed at. I got to visit the base in Germany I'm going to be stationed at and got to meet my new commander."
460 SW/PA: The military experience often proves that this truly is a "small world." Do you run into people you know at other bases around the world?
SSgt. Alston: "Just me getting involved in this program, allowed me to run into people who had been through the program already. Three people I knew in Technical School had already been through Tops in Blue. It's amazing how small the Air Force actually is. At every stop on the tour I run into five or six people I've served with."
460 SW/PA: What are your future plans with the Air Force? Would you still dream of being a performer in life after the Air Force?
SSgt. Alston: "I've been singing for 26 years now. I can't stop singing. It brings me joy. I'll never stop singing. As far as the Air Force this opened a lot of doors for me. It has given me some more options as far as my career."
460 SW/PA: Is there anyone back here at Buckley you'd like to give a shout out to?
SSgt. Alston: "I want to give a shout out to the 460th OSS and the 2nd SWS. They been very supportive and helped me out....to the supervisors and the commanders that supported me and allowed me to use my talent. They've been very helpful and I wouldn't have been able to do this without them covering the space I'm leaving and supporting me through this whole process."
The current tour is billed as "We Believe" and features the music of Andrea Bocelli, Mary J. Blige, Michael Buble and Lady Gaga. Tops in Blue is promising a "90-minute high energy show" that "gives us an uplifting break and musically reflects on some of the things we really believe in as Americans."
Tops in Blue began back in 1953, the brainchild of Maj Al Reilly who wanted to "discover the highest caliber of entertainment and provide it for Air Force families throughout the world." According to their website, "To date, Tops in Blue has traveled over four million miles to military bases throughout the world, performed at six World Fairs, over 100 state fairs and festivals, and performed at countless air shows, military balls and special events." Those of you who have been old enough to vote for a while may even remember that Tops in Blue performed at the half-time show at Super Bowl XIX in January, 1985.