by Airman 1st Class
21st Space Wing Public Affairs
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — A crowded room of individuals anxiously wait as, one by one, they go before a panel of judges to audition. As the hours and days pass by, the judges continue to deliberate, and the crowd grows eager. “Will they pick me?” they wonder, “Should I have done more?”
This isn’t a scene from a reality TV show, but a page right out of the auditions for the Air Force’s very own Tops in Blue. This year, one of Peterson Air Force Base’s Airman made the cut. Tech. Sgt. Jermaine Johnson, 21st Force Support Squadron, noncommissioned officer in charge for standardization and evaluation with Mortuary Affairs, will become the group’s technical flight chief and NCOIC of transportation.
“I have committed to many things since joining the Air Force and this is just another big part of giving a little back to the Air Force family,” he said.
Most would be surprised to know just how challenging it is to make the Air Force’s premier entertainment group. Each year, hundreds of Airmen send in audition tapes, travel to San Antonio and compete for a chance to be one the Air Force’s top entertainers.
The chance to perform and travel the world for a year is a dream come true for some, but it’s not all fun and games for these distinguished Airmen. Much like any traveling entertainment group, the end of one show only signals the beginning of another. The members of Tops in Blue sacrifice more than just time to be a part of the group; but it’s what they are able to give back to the Air Force family that makes it all worth it in the end, a power-house performance that represents the best of the Air Force for all families and Airmen.
“I decided to try out at this point of my career in order to help give back to our Air Force family before I retire,” Sergeant Johnson said.
During the long 10 days of auditions, Sergeant Johnson helped with several other areas of the show as well.
“I helped set up for the performers to be able to perform for the competition,” he said. “Set-up consisted of setting up the stage, audio, video and setting up lighting. They were looking at what experience we had in those categories.”
At the Tops in Blue World Wide performances and auditions, Sergeant Johnson experienced a typical work schedule for the official TiB tour.
“World Wide was 10 days of nothing but constant work,” he said. “We put in about 12 to 17 hours a day and had four days to set up everything for the three nights of competition.”
“Not much sleep for the 10 days I was there, but they were trying to give us a realistic view of how it will be when we start touring,” he added.
According to Sergeant Johnson, all members, regardless of what they we’re trying out for, had to dance in front of a panel of judges to see if they had any other talent. All members of TiB need to be able to perform multiple tasks to help the group be as efficient as possible.
Sergeant Johnson also had the unique experience and opportunity to travel with the 2010 group.
“They seemed to get along with each other very well and they hustled in everything they did,” he said. “I traveled with them when they went to the Super Bowl and for them it was an outstanding experience to perform for millions of viewers.”
What Sergeant Johnson is most looking forward to is the opportunity to travel and see places he might not otherwise have been able to see.
“I’m also looking forward to working with Air Force members from many different AFSCs and background, as well as the wealth of experience I will get from touring with TiB,” he said.
When asked how he believed the Air Force has prepared him for the commitment of TiB he quoted Air Force Instruction 36-2618, an “NCO should always maintain the highest level of readiness to meet mission requirements.”
“With that said, the Air Force has given me all the opportunity to stay prepared for any mission needed to be completed,” Sergeant Johnson said. “While touring with TiB, I will have to maintain that high level of readiness for the entire year to ensure we complete our mission safely.”