Trumpeter safety chief doesn’t have to 'toot own horn'
By Airman 1st Class Erica Stewart, 30th Space Wing Public Affairs
/ Published May 04, 2007
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- After two flights of 30th Space Wing staff Airmen arrange themselves into formation, the first familiar note of reveille sounds.
Only this time, it isn't the typical generic recording; the crisp brassy notes of the sacred military melody are being played live by Col. Gary Wirsig, 30th SW chief of safety.
The colonel has been enhancing his life and the lives of others by playing a brass instrument since he was 10 years old and living in Dunlap, Kan.
"I started out playing the French horn and switched to the trumpet when I was 12 because it was more exciting," he said. "It was always out front and played the big, exciting parts."
Thrust into the public eye when he joined the high school marching band, his musical talent led him to be part of the marching band at University of Kansas.
The former KU Jayhawk was only on the team for a year but didn't let his skill die on that football field.
After completing his bachelor's degree in music education, Colonel Wirsig continued his trumpet playing as well as his education.
Having finished his master's degree of science in aeronautical engineering and now serving as the chief of safety for Vandenberg, Colonel Wirsig continues to use trumpet playing as a creative outlet.
"Now I mostly play the trumpet in church for when needed in song service and also for a church band," he said. "Playing the trumpet serves as a creative outlet for an ability God has loaned me for a while. I like to think that my playing may help others worship God and draw attention to him."
Colonel Wirsig also uses his skill to draw family and friends closer together.
"I'll play for family and friends at Christmas time," the safety chief said. "My son also plays the trumpet and we like to duet."
Not only does this skill support his family dynamics, but it's also used to solder together the greatest air and space force when he played in formation April 18.
"I've never played that particular bugle call in public before and I was worried that the first note might come out completely wrong," he said, "but once I hit the first note or two, the nerves went away."
As the first note of reveille sounded that windy morning, he filled with honor and pride.
"The actual trumpet playing was something that wasn't there before," he said. "It's an honor to be able to serve in that capacity and hopefully its helped people."