Tops in Blue brings home one of Kadena's own

Base Info
Staff Sgt. Marc Hightower, Tops in Blue keyboard player, and Capt. Fanesha Friar, Tops in Blue Officer in Charge, present an appreciation plaque to 18th Air Maintence Squadron commander, Lt. Col. John Tran at Kadena Air Base, Japan, July 28, 2014. The plaque is to recognize Hightower's releasing squadron for their support of Hightower's role in Tops in Blue. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Zackary A. Henry/Released)
Staff Sgt. Marc Hightower, Tops in Blue keyboard player, and Capt. Fanesha Friar, Tops in Blue Officer in Charge, present an appreciation plaque to 18th Air Maintence Squadron commander, Lt. Col. John Tran at Kadena Air Base, Japan, July 28, 2014. The plaque is to recognize Hightower's releasing squadron for their support of Hightower's role in Tops in Blue. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Zackary A. Henry/Released)

Tops in Blue brings home one of Kadena's own

by: Airman 1st Class Zackary A. Henry, 18th WG/PA | .
Kadena Air Base | .
published: August 04, 2014

KADENA AIR BASE - Tops in Blue is a world-famous Air Force expeditionary entertainment unit that travels to raise the morale of Air Force personnel stationed throughout the world at remote and deployed locations. On this stop of their tour they brought one of Kadena's own Airmen back home with them for their performances at Kadena's Keystone Theater, July 27 and 28 in front of nearly 1,000 audience members.

Enter stage right, Staff Sgt. Marc Hightower; he is an aircraft electrical and environmental system craftsman at the 18th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron here, but is currently on tour as a keyboard player and vocalist for Tops in Blue.

"The feeling of coming back is just phenomenal," said Hightower. "Plus, Kadena is such a great place and has such a great vibe from the people here."

Like almost all great musicians, Hightower had an inspiration to play music. For him it was his grandmother. He remembers being an usher in his church and watching his grandmother play the organ when he was a child.

"I would look over and see her playing," said Hightower. "I was just amazed by the fact she could play with her hands and all these draw boards and foot pedals and it was just amazing to me."

That inspiration turned into a passion and one day while on the Air Force Portal, Hightower stumbled upon a link to Tops in Blue. He decided to check it out and see what Tops in Blue was all about. After some reading he started the application, but due to multiple reasons he didn't finish it.

"Somewhere along the application process I got lazy and decided it wasn't for me or I didn't have the time to do it so I didn't finish the application," said Hightower.

Fate had a different plan for him. Hightower went on to explain that a while later he received an email from the Tops in Blue staff saying he needed to finish the application and submit a video which pushed him to complete the process.

The Tops in Blue staff used that video to see if he was eligible for the world-wide competition across the entire Air Force, both overseas and stateside.

"I got 2nd place in my division and they selected me for the tour after that," Hightower said.

After being selected Hightower's next step was to begin two months of practice called "staging" in order to get ready for the tour. He was also expected to be more than just a keyboard player by some in Tops in Blue.

"I look to him as one of our leaders," said Chief Master Sgt. Andrea Falcher, superintendent for Tops in Blue. "We look for that leadership out there and he has that."

Hightower said it was phenomenal and he had a great time playing his heart out for Kadena. "I just gave it my all..." Hightower said. "I think it was one of our best performances."

This year's Tops in Blue tour will be ending the first week of January, and that is when Hightower will be rejoining the Kadena family.