By David D. Underwood Jr., Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Public Affairs
Senior Airman Marissa K. Strickland, a cryptologic language analyst with the 392nd Intelligence Squadron, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, has been selected to perform with the Air Force’s premiere entertainment group Tops in Blue.
Tops in Blue is an all-active duty, U.S. Air Force special unit made up of talented amateur performers who are selected for their entertainment abilities and special talents.
Strickland’s special talent is playing the bagpipes, and she has been in band since the fourth grade.
A native of Fairfield, Calif., Strickland joined the Air Force in 2010. She has practiced a lot and maintained her talent, even when she didn’t have a band to play with. Tops in Blue was suggested to her by a coworker.
Strickland is at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas going through her initial training. Lackland is the home of Tops in Blue. The training is a highly accelerated educational process where performers hone their skills and become world-class performers and distinguished Air Force ambassadors.
“I’m learning how to sing here, too, since they have me officially listed as a female vocalist,” said Strickland. She is also learning the show routines to be ready for a successful world-wide tour.
Strickland will tour for nine to 10 months around the globe, entertaining deployed troops, military families, promote community relations, and support Air Force recruitment efforts.
“I feel great! It’s such an honor that I can do what I love and share it with people on this tour,” she said.
She said her unit is extremely supportive. It was a challenge for her going through Airman Leadership School and trying to out-process for her temporary assignment with Tops in Blue.
“They were there to help every step of the way, and I can’t thank them enough. My friends and family were also supportive and very excited for me,’ she added.
After her tour with the team, Strickland would like to reenlist and return to Defense Language Institute for a second language.
“I will definitely continue playing bagpipes. It’s not the kind of instrument you ever put down, and it has opened so many doors for me,” she said.
The Tops in Blue team is always looking for new talent. For more information on how to join the “best of the best,” visit their website.