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Fitch choir entertains Marines

The Austintown Fitch Concert Choir performed Tuesday for the men and women who care for and fly President Joe Biden’s helicopter. The choir also enjoyed lunch at the base and was given a tour of Marine Base Quantico, Va. Submitted photo

Thirty-nine members of the Austintown Fitch High School Concert Choir on Tuesday had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to perform patriotic music for 350 to 400 personnel who care for and fly President Joe Biden’s helicopter.

These servicemen and women are attached to HMX-1, the Presidential Helicopter Squadron at Marine Base Quantico, Va., where the choir members under the direction of Bill Klein also had lunch and went on a tour.

With them was Ken Jakubec of Austintown, an Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame inductee and a 1965-68 alumni of the HMX-1 squadron.

This is the 49th year the choir has entertained veterans over its spring break, and it took some arranging this week to get them onto the high-security base. Klein thanked U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Howland, and Jakubec for their help in getting the group to the base.

Jakubec called the base visit and performance “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” for the choir members.

One of the helicopters provided a backdrop to a group photo of the choir. It’s a Sikorsky VH-3D Sea King, and these are more often seen in action on the South Lawn of the White House.

Because the base personnel have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Jakubec said the choir members were allowed to remove their masks to sing. In fact, he was told they were the first non-military people allowed on the base for more than a year and that choice was made because of the choir’s history of entertaining veterans.

The concert choir will also attend a master class from a professor at Regent University and perform for veterans at various locations while in Virginia.

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