21st TSC marches to a new beat

by Sgt. Fay Conroy
21st TSC Public Affairs

Soldiers from the 21st Theater Sustainment Command are now marching to a new beat.

The brand new “21st TSC March” was written by Staff Sgt. Eric Burger, chief of the resource management and logistics division and detachment leader for the 76th Army Band, 21st TSC.

Although his current job might not have anything to do with making music, Sergeant Burger has had a long and impressive career as a
musician, both in the Army and as a civilian.

Sergeant Burger has been playing in Army bands for 20 years. It was while deployed with V Corps during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 that the long road to the new 21st TSC march began.

Command Sgt. Maj. David Wood, then 3rd Corps Support Command command sergeant major, asked Sergeant Burger to write a march for 3rd COSCOM.
Sergeant Burger wrote the music for the march, and it was officially adopted in 2004. But it was at Sergeant Burger’s first performance at a 21st TSC event that he was asked by Command Sergeant Major Wood, now the 21st TSC command
sergeant major, to write a march for the “First in Support” command.

The heraldry of the 21st TSC proved to be a great inspiration to Sergeant Burger when he was writing the lyrics, he said.

“The (21st TSC’s) distinguished unit insignia has a blue band that symbolizes the blue of the Rhine River. The first line of the song is ‘from the blue of the Rhine …’ The line ‘First in Support’ is the unit’s motto. The line ‘a golden arrow flying straight …’ refers to the line in the distinguished unit insignia symbolism,” Sergeant Burger said.  “The broad golden arrow depicts the unit’s mission awareness and its logistical strength.”

For the music, Sergeant Burger got a little help from John Philip Sousa, a famous marching band composer who lived around the turn of the 20th century.

“As I was working on the orchestration, I realized I had actually heard the melody before – or at least part of it. I went back through some previous arrangements I had done and realized the first part of the melody was from an 1886 march by John Philip Sousa titled ‘The Bride Elect’ that I had once arranged for a brass quintet. As I listened to the original, I felt it appropriate to use his four bar introduction with some re-orchestration,” Sergeant Burger said.

In his civilian life, Sergeant Burger has been equally successful. He has performed on stage with legends such as Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald and has been a featured jazz soloist at international jazz festivals. A few of these festivals include the Reno International Jazz Festival, the Kool Jazz Festival in Los Angeles, the Umbria Jazz Festival in Italy, the Monterey Jazz Festival in California and the SWR Jazz Festival at Europa Park and in Germany.

“Staff Sergeant Burger is an extremely talented and gifted musician, and even though the 76th Army Band is scheduled to inactivate later this year, the 21st TSC is very fortunate to have had such high-caliber musicians serving in the
command,” said Sgt. Maj. Cameron Porter, 21st TSC public affairs chief.   

Besides serving with the 76th Army Band, Sergeant Burger is active as a freelance musician and performs with his band Me and the Heat.