ARPC member balances military, musical careers

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Rob Hazelett
While some military members may fantasize of being a rock star and performing live in front of an audience, one Air Reserve Personnel Center service member auditioned his way into a local band last year and is living out his dream.

When Tech. Sgt. Robert Van Ghle isn’t at ARPC serving his country in the U.S. Air Force, he’s making more than 20 years of drum practice pay off as he plays in the heavy Christian rock band, ofDavid.

Van Ghle said being a part of the 4-man band hailing from Aurora, Colorado, is a huge part of his life.

“I play because I love to play, and for no other reason. When I was first learning the drums at 12 years old, you couldn't get me to practice, let alone play, in front of anyone,” he said. “A few years later, when I finally convinced myself to get over my stage fright and perform for an audience, my days of being shy quickly went out the window. Ever since then, I've been playing, writing and performing.”

The Buffalo native said his heart is in music, having played everything from lead guitar for a heavy metal band to percussion for country and cover bands.

Van Ghle, an NCO in charge of board operations, has also fine-tuned his Air Force career.

He said he did plenty of research before deciding to join the military branch he felt took care of its people and sought to build the 'whole person.’

“When I joined 13 years ago, I had already graduated high-school, completed trade school had done my research on all of our DoD branches, and decided to join because I was interested in a different life for myself,” Van Ghle said. “The Air Force was the only branch that could offer me a challenge personally, ethically, morally and professionally with a focus on learning both intrinsic values and leadership principles. I wanted to go to a place that challenged me to keep growing as a human being while, at the same time, belonging to an organization that set me up for success later in life by fostering a culture of much of the same.”

Before coming to ARPC two years ago, Van Ghle started his career working as a ground radio maintenance airman, where he worked on air traffic control and landing communications systems before cross-training into a personnel position.

“What really makes me happy serving in my current role is knowing what I do affects the entire Air Force Reserve - every career field,” he said. “By developing products instrumental to our development teams at the center, we are key to career field functional managers and general officers who are able to place competing officers and enlisted personnel into key command positions.”

In the meantime, he continues contributing in ofDavid, arriving just after the release of last year’s 13-song album “Let It Begin.”

“I came into the band as they were transitioning out their previous drummer, and as the full-length release was happening,” he said. “We released our album both physically and into the hands of online retailers. We’ve gotten regular play and requests for our material on the Internet and local radio, and still receive amazing feedback from newly made fans who have discovered us.”

Meanwhile, ofDavid is currently working on a new album Van Ghle feels good about.

“We're about seven tracks into our new album so far, and we've been focusing our scope to narrow in on a finely tuned, energetically heavy, sound,” he said. “I actually get really excited when I think about the material we have so far. Hopefully the masses will enjoy them and share in that excitement when the album is released.”

Ultimately, he said his goals with ofDavid are to constantly capture new audiences and create memories for them that both promote the band’s message and spreads like a positive-type wildfire.

While he’s never been a stranger to the music business, he offers advice to aspiring musicians who may be following in his footsteps.

“First of all, practice, practice, practice. Second, recognize the best musician’s don’t play just using their hands, feet or eyes, they play using their emotions and heart,” he said. “Playing with emotion is a talent that can’t be taught in a class or given to you from anyone else. Learn to use what you have on the inside, as well as the outside. Lastly, be a musician because you love being a musician. You’ll get the best results out of your own music and have the ability to reach out to and connect with others in a far better way than you would if you did it because of other motives.”

Whether it’s playing in a band or serving in the Air Force, Van Ghle wants to be known for going all out.

“Challenges will come our way, no matter how long you do something,” he said. “And when those challenges come, I have the option of playing my absolute guts out, or utilizing a poor attitude while performing. I refuse to do the latter.”

As he strives to make an impact in the music industry, Van Ghle is well aware that no matter where he goes, he’s a positive image for others who may be interested in joining the Air Force.

“The biggest thing folks need to know is that they should be prepared to be challenged, that the bar will be raised higher, in terms of their character, integrity, personal drive, work ethic and morals,” he said. “And above all else, never close yourself off from growing. There are instances where you can learn just as much from an Airman Basic as you could from someone who belongs to the Top 3. Bottom line; never discriminate towards who your 'teacher' may be when you have an opportunity to learn something. Thankfully, I've known some leaders over the last 13 years that have taken me under their wing, challenged and inspired me.”

Van Ghle said his personal goals are simply to do well, smile often, be humorous at all costs and to raise his kids on good music.