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NEWS | Feb. 9, 2012

On Top of the World: Tops in Blue Airman returns home

By Airman 1st Class Tom Brading Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

At the age of seven, Petrice Brown had no idea where her passion for singing would lead her. But from her humble beginnings singing in a church in the small town of Cochran, Ga. to performing in front of thousands of people around the world, Brown has remained an Airman with class.

More than 13 years later, Brown, a senior airman assigned to the 628th Logistics Readiness Squadron, was still pursuing her love of singing. Last year, auditioned and was selected to be part of the Air Force's premier showcase, Tops in Blue.

Tops in Blue is a travelling entertainment ensemble formed in 1953 and made up of active-duty Airmen. The entertainment group performs more than 120 shows to service members and their families all around the world.

With the tour coming to a close, Brown will be returning to her home base at Joint Base Charleston - Air Base.

"I'm very excited to return to Charleston," said Brown. "It's a great place to come back to."

For the last 12 months, Brown has travelled the world as a member of Tops in Blue and performed in front of thousands of people.

"Travelling the world in a year was amazing," said Brown. "What's even more amazing is that I entertained so many people while doing it."

While on tour with Tops in Blue in Europe, Brown entertained packed coliseums filled with screaming fans that couldn't speak English.

"It didn't matter that we didn't speak the same language," said Brown. "The energy we shared was universal."

Twenty-five countries in Europe was only part of her incredible journey. Tops in Blue also toured the United States, singing songs filled with patriotism and showmanship.

After a performance in Clear, Alaska, Brown was approached by a young girl. The girl, no older than 12, had just finished watching Brown sing.

"You're beautiful," the girl said, star struck at the sight of Brown. "When I grow up, I want to be a singer, just like you."

"It was the subtle moments along the way, such as the one in Alaska, which made the biggest impact," Brown said. "Those are the moments I'll always look back on with pride."

"I've seen plays in London," said Brown. "I've performed in my dream city of Paris, spent my birthday in the Azores, performed for the original Tuskegee Airmen and sang in front of hundreds of deployed service members in Afghanistan, Qatar and Kuwait. The feeling was, safe to say, like I was on top of the world."

For the 21-year-old Brown, every day she saw her dreams come true while helping others live theirs.

After a performance, Brown met a deployed spouse and her young baby. Like most deployed spouses she met, she was very proud of her loved one but missed him very much.

A few months later, Brown met the deployed spouses' husband during a meet and greet, while performing in Afghanistan. The husband, aware that his family had attended the Tops in Blue weeks prior, asked Brown about them.

Even though the family wasn't brought back together until he returned home, this small gesture of being a Wingman boosted their morale and helped them feel connected during a very difficult time in their lives.

Tops in Blue routinely performs for deployed service members throughout Southwest Asia. However, entertainment shows are only the beginning of the impact they make. In addition to performances, they organized Skype video calls to home during the holidays as well as passed out gifts and let service members get pictures with Santa to send home.

"Helping deployed service members was an honor," said Brown. "I'm so proud to be part of something that gives back to those that give so much."

"The experience was humbling," said Brown. "Because of this, I've grown. I can see how my time with Tops in Blue has matured me and how it will be a positive effect on not only the rest of my Air Force career, but the rest of my life."

Brown also credits the Tops in Blue staff she worked with on pushing her for perfection and inspiring her to be a version of herself she never knew existed.

"I'm an Airman first," said Brown. "The Tops in Blue staff made sure we knew this. We are ambassadors for the Air Force and how we conduct ourselves is a reflection of that."

Some people may think touring with Tops in Blue is a break from active-duty life.

"Tops in Blue isn't a vacation," said Brown. "All the travelling, rehearsals and performances are hard work. However, I wouldn't have wanted it any other way."

Every day Brown pushed herself harder than the day before. Now she can look in the mirror and say, "I'm dedicated. This is me. It's what I do."