Hickam Airman to play during Air Force Week

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Chris Vadnais
  • Air Force News Agency
One Hickam Air Force Base Airman will get the chance of a lifetime to take the stage before the Air Force's premiere talent showcase, Tops in Blue, at the Waikiki Shell during the Air Force Week Honolulu celebration Sept. 7 through 15.

Tech. Sgt. Daniel Baduria, an air Reserve technician with the Hawaii Air National Guard's 154th Maintenance Squadron, will open the show with a musical tribute to his father.

Sergeant Baduria's father was an innovative, self-taught ukulele artist who also served in the Air Force. Donald Baduria served in the late 1950s, first as a radio operator and later as part of the Tops in Blue entertainment showcase. Mr. Baduria was a member of the Strolling Strings, an ensemble consisting of a flamenco guitarist, a banjo player, and he was on the ukulele.

"He was very proud of his service," Sergeant Baduria said. "He would tell me about all the airplanes that he flew on which was a big undertaking back then, given their technology."

Mr. Baduria spent four years with the Air Force before moving onto a successful career in the music business, which included two commercial album releases and two appearances on the "Ed Sullivan Show."

"My dad was so God-gifted that he could listen to anything -- any song -- and he'd just come up with a perfect arrangement right on the spot," Sergeant Baduria said. "That's how gifted he was, whereas I would probably take a couple days to come up with something half-decent in comparison to what he would compose."

When he was a high school senior, Sergeant Baduria lost his father to a year-long battle with cancer.

"During that period of time, I was always close to my dad, but we got even closer," Sergeant Baduria said. "This opportunity right now to pay tribute to him is something that's so special to me. I'm so honored to have this opportunity."

Amy Lutey, the marketing director for Pacific Air Forces Services, said making the connection between Tops in Blue and Sergeant Baduria was a stroke of luck.

Ms. Lutey's team wanted a local act to open the Tops in Blue performance, but wanted to make sure the performer had a strong tie to the Air Force. An Internet search yielded an article about Mr. Baduria's work with the Strolling Strings, and the article happened to have been written by Sergeant Baduria.

At this point, Ms. Lutey's team didn't know anything about Sergeant Baduria. They began making calls to local ukulele instructors, who she discovered were friends of Mr. Baduria's. The second of these calls resulted in a revelation.

"He said, 'Yeah, I know his son, Daniel. He works on Hickam,'" Ms. Lutey said.

Air Force Week is a series of celebrations of the service's 60th Anniversary. Events have already been held in Phoenix; Sacramento, Calif., St. Louis and the New England area.

"Of course we wanted to make Honolulu's celebration fantastic, but we also wanted it to be unique to Honolulu," said Lt. Col. Tracey Saiki, the PACAF Public Affairs co-director for Air Force Week Honolulu. "Hawaii's rich military tradition made it relatively easy to find great ties like the Baduria family."

Sergeant Baduria and his brother Donald Jr. -- who will be playing backup at the Tops in Blue show -- have followed in their father's footsteps, continuing to play the music he taught them. Air Force Week Honolulu will provide an opportunity for their father's unique style, influenced by the Air Force's Strolling Strings banjo and flamenco guitar, to captivate an audience once again.

"You know, we felt we lost him prematurely," Sergeant Baduria. "But my dad would be proud because we continued his musical tradition and legacy."

Sergeant Baduria opens the Tops in Blue show at the Waikiki Shell Sept. 12 at 7 p.m. The show is free and open to everyone. For more information on Air Force Week Honolulu, visit www.pacaf.af.mil/library/airforceweekhonolulu.