By Danniele McKnight
Operation Rising star began in August with two nights of a cappella contests and ended Sept. 29. The contest is formatted off of the popular television series "American Idol", and was formerly called "Military Idol".
This year the program was sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Stars & Stripes were a supporting sponsor, as well as Family and Morale, Welfare, and Recreation, G-9 in Fort Sam Houston. Fort Detrick began the program with eight contestants; three were eliminated in round two, leaving five finalists.
The Operation Rising Star format has three rounds: the first is acapella, the second and third rounds allow background music, with the second and third rounds featuring divided voting between the judges and the audience.
The installation winners received cash prizes of third place $100, second place $250 and first place $500. The first place winner is placed in a competition from the other bases hosting Operation Rising Star competitions using their videotaped performances from the installation finals. From there 12 finalists are chosen to compete in Fort Sam Houston in the brand new Army Entertainment Theater beginning in December.
The grand prize is an all expense paid trip for two to Los Angeles to record a three song CD with a professional music studio. Like American Idol there are three judges. The judges for Fort Detrick were from the installation except the primary sponsor, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Jim Matthews and Dale Angleberger from the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, were kind enough to lend their talent as judges.
Dale has not only experience as a performer but also as a song writer, and actually performed during the finale while the scores were being tallied. His song choice led many in the audience to laugh and agree with the song about teenage daughters.
The final judges were Col. Alan J. Darden, USAG Fort Detrick commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin Stuart. Command Sgt. Maj., Medical Research and Materiel Command, and Boyce did an excellent job judging as their schedules allowed. The performers did find that not only did their voice and talent matter but their stage presence played a large part in their scores, torn pants even if part of the act, were commented on.
The finale of the contest was the entertainment for the Family and MWR After Duty Social, formerly called Right Arm nights. The five finalists put on an excellent performance, entertaining everyone. Finalists for the first round were: Spc. Deshandra Henry from USAMRIID, followed by Fort Detrick's BOSS Vice President Spc. Logan Lucas from the Post Chapel. Visiting contestants were Sgt. Fae Prince from White House Communications Agency and Maj. Wade Johnson from the National Guard Readiness Center in Arlington, Va. followed.
The evening ended with Spc. Paula Ashcraft from Fort Detrick's 298th Signal Company. One of the great incentives with Operation Rising Star was the $300 VFW Spirit Award. This award was given out to the unit which showed the most positive enthusiasm during the competition. The winner would be determined by the three judges only.
The Spirit award was given to USAG that evening due to the huge support they gave. The stress level rose as the votes were being tallied but after a short time the winners were announced.
Lucas took third place, Ashcraft taking second and Prince walking away with the top prize.