Faye Sizemore

BAGPIPER ON THE BATTLEFIELD… A MELODY IN FALLUJAH

Amidst the roar of rockets and gunfire
the bagpiper wafts his sweet music o’er
Playing a brother home to a distant shore…
sounds of ‘Taps’ blending with the battles roar…

Can… there ever be… any sweeter music made by man
than these goodbyes in the midst of battles grim
… by a soldier without weapon’s… just bagpipes in his hand…
trusting to his brothers… and to God to cover him…

1st Sgt Dwayne Farr, USMC
1st Sgt Dwayne Farr, USMC

KILT-WEARING MARINE PLAYS BAGPIPES

Associated Press
April 16, 2004,

FALLUJAH, Iraq – Amid the clatter of gunfire and explosions that regularly rock this city, an unexpected sound rises over the front line – bagpipes.

Dressed in Marine fatigues with his gun at his side, 1st Sgt. Dwayne Farr, 36, blows into his set of pipes. The plaintive wail is carried by the wind that whips across this dust-blown, war-torn town.

“Playing on the battlefield – I never thought that would happen,” Farr said.

Farr, an African-American from Detroit, was inspired to learn when he saw another player who didn’t match the Scotsman stereotype.

“I was at a funeral and I saw a Marine playing the bagpipes, and I thought: this isn’t a big, burly, redheaded guy with a ponytail and a big stomach. He’s a small Hispanic Marine. I said if he can learn to play the bagpipes, I can learn,” he said, chuckling.

When he is not on the front-line, Farr wears a kilt when playing, and some Marines have been skeptical about a member of one of the toughest fighting forces in the world donning what looks like a skirt.

But Farr is unfazed. He’s looking for a desert camouflage kilt he can wear in operations like these.

“Kilts are something that fighting men wore many years ago, and we know that the Marines are fighting men. So real men wear kilts. And they are pretty comfortable too,” he said.

Among his admittedly limited repertoire is “taps”, the tune traditionally played by the military when a service member is killed. Farr has played it several times over the past days in Fallujah.

Marines say the sound of the bagpipes is a morale booster.

“It’s something to hear besides the rockets and gunfire,” said Master Sgt. Rowland Salinas, 42, from San Antonio, Texas. “It’s something that soothes the mind.”