Here’s a feel-good story, one about which we have been aware for a few weeks, but have waited until now to mention, once the episode played out. As an admission of interest, let me say up front that it involves a good personal friend of mine, Steve Huber, who is also an advertiser here on Bluegrass Today. Without regard for that, the story involves an admirable act on Huber’s part, one worthy of wider attention.
Several weeks ago, a friend mentioned to Steve that he had seen a posting on the BanjoHangout.org discussion boards from Maj. Corey Seats, an Operations Officer with the 875th Engineer Battalion, stationed in Iraq.
Corey posted asking if anyone might have a banjo available for sale at a modest price which he could keep with him on the base. His batallion, an Arkansas National Guard unit from Jonesboro, spends their days looking for Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), and he had been leery of shipping his personal banjo over to Iraq.
Huber’s first reaction on hearing about this was that he wanted to do something, and asked his friend, Dave Foster, who frequents the BanjoHangout, to contact Corey and ask that he email Huber directly. Once they got in touch, Huber told Corey that he would like to assemble one of his Lancaster model banjos from parts he had on hand in the shop, and ship it to the base at no charge, along with one of his Huber capos and a strap.
Needless to say, Seats was floored by the offer, and very appreciative of Huber’s generosity.
“Man, I don’t know what to say. Thank you doesn’t cover it! It certainly wasn’t my intention to try to get a free banjo! I am very familiar with your banjos, and those that play them. Jim Mills, Barry Abernathy, Sammy Shelor, and Cia Cherryholmes are all favorites of mine. I’ll have to put on my Jim Mills DVD (yes, I brought it with me), and TRY to match him note-for-note!”
Huber said that he didn’t see this as such a big deal, and was happy to have been able to do something concrete in return for the sacrifice these men and women in uniformed service make on a daily basis.
“You think about those guys over there risking their lives, and want to do something to show your appreciation other than just sending money to an organization somewhere. This opportunity to do something for Corey just landed in my lap, and I feel grateful for the chance, even if it only helped this one guy.”
Corey Seats has been playing banjo for more than 25 years, though only seriously for the past four. His home is in Jonesboro, AR, where he lives with his wife and two small children. He has been in the military for 14 years, in the National Guard this past 11.
He now describes himself as a “Huber customer for life.”
On a related note, you may be interested in the efforts of Operation: Music Aid, who help obtain musical instruments for the use of US military members who are in recovery or rehabilitation for injuries incurred during their service.
Charlie Daniels has also been involved in helping get musical instruments to service men and women stationed overseas through Operation Heartstrings. He discussed this with us in a GrassCast interview last year, which you can hear online.