Boxer hits a high note while deployed

GULF OF ADEN -- Eighteen Sailors and Marines aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) competed in the first round of the ship's singing competition, “Boxer Idol” May 28.

More than 30 Sailors and Marines auditioned for a panel of six judges in the ship’s print shop for a chance to be selected to perform live in front of the crew of Boxer.

"I was excited that people really enjoyed the sound of my voice,” said Gunnery Sgt. Legarian Smith, a contestant. "The ability to have fun and see the faces of people in the crowd as they were having fun like I was, that’s the biggest reward. The song that I picked was a well-known one from the 90s, and something that was easy to sing for the first round."

The live event on the ship’s mess decks was organized by more than 20 members of Boxer’s Alcohol Intervention Working Group to promote responsible alcohol consumption through entertainment alternatives, and to generate ideas aimed at reducing alcohol related incidents during liberty port calls.

“Working on this entertainment for the crew has been a humbling learning experience and fun because I’ve had the chance to work with so many people to make this happen," said Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Matthew Jackson, a coordinator for the event. “Presidents from several command organizations representing all enlisted paygrades volunteered their time and efforts to support this function.”

The competition presents a variety of incentives for those who chose to participate. Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Fuel) Airman Carl Leefall saw the competition as an opportunity to go back to his singing roots.

"I’ve been singing since I was little,” said Leefall. “From elementary all the way to high school, I used to perform in musicals and plays. I really enjoy it because it puts me in my comfort zone. I was a bit nervous, but I tried not to show it much.”

Six judges provided the contestants with immediate feedback on their performance and narrowed down the talent pool by eliminating six people, leaving twelve who will go on to the second round. The competition will continue throughout the month of June as Boxer searches for her "Idol" singer.

“Being a judge for ‘Boxer Idol’ is very difficult,” said Personnel Specialist 2nd Class Karmen Sales, president of the Second Class Petty Officer Association, a judge for this event. “The amount of talent that we have on Boxer makes the competition very steep.”

“Boxer Idol” serves as a morale-booster for the crew of Boxer while deployed because it gives the audience and participants a chance to decompress and have a little fun.

“You can tell by everyone’s body language, the way people responded to the singers and our judge’s feedback that this was a hit and a good turnout,” said Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class Christopher Flores, president of the First Class Petty Officer Association, and a judge.

With round one of three complete, some involved conveyed a sense of accomplishment for reaching their goals.

“The most rewarding part of this event is working with command leadership along with the presidents of several command organizations,” said Jackson. “Everyone involved has been enthusiastic about participating and presenting the best product possible for the crew. They really want to put on a great show.”

Boxer is the flagship for the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group and, with embarked 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.

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