PEORIA, IL (02/18/2011)(readMedia)-- As the old adage goes, 'music has charms to sooth a savage beast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.'

With the title Airmen, many may envision a pilot and flight crew, but there are many other ways Airmen serve their country with a double bassoon instead of a fighter jet.

With more than 150 different occupations in the National Guard, there is only one job that allows a servicemember to use an instrument instead of a weapon. That group of talented citizen-Airmen is part of the Air National Guard Band of the Midwest.

"Each time I sing the armed forces melody while the band plays, it's such an honor to see the veterans stand to their feet," said Air Force Tech. Sgt. Keisha Gwin-Goodin of Chicago, a vocalist with the U.S. Air Force Band of Mid-America.

The mission of the Illinois Air National Guard's 566th Air Force Band is unique among military units. The Airmen's skills reflect both art and dedication to service in patriotic performance.

"Our mission is multi-faceted," said Air Force Maj. Bryan Miller of Naperville, commander and conductor of the Illinois Air National Guard's 566th Air Force Band. "We are a powerful resource, everything from morale, welfare and recreation to recruiting internally, to improving community relations and portraying a positive image for our nation's military."

The band performs all over the globe, but has had recent concentrations on morale boosting concerts and memorial services in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"With so many military missions in action, we will construct and deploy the most appropriate ensemble needed for the mission," said Miller. "We accomplish this with any number of products to include ceremonial and concert bands, jazz and rock bands, vocalists, buglers and anything else that could best serve a specific mission."

Alongside performing for deployed troop operations, the 566th Air National Guard Band also lifts the

spirits of civilians by performing locally at schools, nursing homes and surrounding organizations.

"The 566th Air National Guard Band is an essential column to the military public affairs structure," said Tech. Sgt. Jack Kinsella of Mahattan, Ill., "Performing not only inspires patriotism, but it most importantly strengthens relationships with a variety of publics to enhance the reputation of the fighting forces of America."

With 11 Air National Guard bands in the continental United States, each band is accountable for supporting units in a multi-state area of responsibility. While performing a diverse line up of patriotic ensembles, the Illinois Air National Guard band has established and maintained an integral root within military history.

Miller said, "I do believe in our mission, whether it's performing for deployed troops in theater, stateside or for the citizenry, we have the unique opportunity to reach out and touch people."

For more information on the band please contact the Illinois National Guard Public Affairs Office, 217-761-3569.

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