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Joint Base Andrews News

NEWS | June 5, 2020

America's Airman: Tech. Sgt. Jilian McGreen

By Airman 1st Class Spencer Slocum 11th Wing Public Affairs

What's your full name, job title and unit?

Tech. Sgt. Jilian McGreen, Premier Band Vocalist, The Singing Sergeants, United States Air Force Band on Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling. I am currently assigned as the Executive Officer of the 11th Operations Group for the next year.


What's your hometown city and state (and country, if not U.S.)?

Cheshire, Connecticut


What has being in the military allowed you to do that you wouldn’t have otherwise done?

As part of our community relations mission, I have had the opportunity to travel to many parts of this country with the U.S. Air Force Band. The Air Force brought me to San Diego and Santa Fe, California, two stunning environments unlike anything I had ever seen. I will definitely go back to those cities in the future to explore the hiking, food and culture. The Air Force has also brought me to rural parts of states like Texas and Wyoming. Often these small towns are no less beautiful than the tourist destinations and the people are vibrant, interesting and passionate about their corner of America. Traveling our country has broadened my perspective regarding who we are as a nation. I’m proud to share the Air Force story with citizens of our rural and urban communities and honor veterans in the communities in which they live.


What's the coolest thing you’ve done in the military?

I was involved in the State Funeral for President George Bush in December 2018. The Singing Sergeants joined with vocalists from each branch to form the Joint Service Choir. We provided prelude, postlude and service music during the televised funeral at Washington National Cathedral. It was an honor to be part of laying one of our nation’s leaders to rest and to represent the Airmen of the U.S. Air Force on an international stage.


What hobbies do you have/what do you do in your spare time?

I’m really involved in ruck marching, which involves walking with a weighted pack. As an avid runner, I have found rucking to be an effective way to use my passion for cardio endurance while introducing a strength element. This year I challenged myself to do the Bataan Memorial Death March, an annual event at White Sands Missile Range that memorializes the Bataan Death March. While the event was cancelled due to COVID-19, preparing for the event was a truly transformational experience. I learned about U.S. Military involvement in the Philippines during WWII while pushing my body and mind to go farther, faster and with a heavier ruck than ever before. An article about our team’s experience can be found here:


What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your life?

Getting a Doctorate of Musical Arts is the biggest challenge I have ever willingly taken on. At the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, I was challenged by world class faculty and brilliant peers to become a better musician and a more astute scholar. Several years of expanding my intellectual horizons in the study of voice science, pedagogy, song literature, languages and music history taught me that I have the ability, determination and creativity required to succeed in a challenging environment. The skills and experiences accrued in my doctoral studies help me to be a more resilient and more creative airman. The language skills I developed there help me to serve my role in the Air Force. The Singing Sergeants are frequently called upon to perform for foreign dignitaries in their native languages. For example, I am not a Hebrew speaker but I have performed in Hebrew for two different Israeli Air Chiefs. My background in phonetics, translation and language allows me to learn and memorize songs in foreign languages and perform them in a way that is convincing and meaningful to native speakers. It’s a tremendous honor to be able to use my educational background to serve the Air Force mission.


What are two interesting facts about yourself?

I am learning to speak German and I love reading autobiographies.


How has the outbreak effected your job?

The outbreak has effected every aspect of my job as a military bandsman. As a soft power tool of the U.S. Air Force, our mission often involves large groups of people gathering in close proximity for a public concert experience. In light of COVID-19, we’re finding unique virtual ways to continue to connect with communities on behalf of the U.S. Air Force. The U.S. Air Force Band and Singing Sergeants Facebook pages are a great place to see the virtual products we’ve been producing. During this unusual time, I’ve had the opportunity to serve as a guest speaker in virtual music classes across the country. The online environment has allowed me to reach students from middle school through college who may never otherwise have heard about the U.S. Air Force Band, or the many other opportunities that exist for them in the U.S. Military.


What are you doing to stay active during all of this?

A cancellation of the Bataan Memorial Death March didn’t stop me from rucking! I recognized Memorial Day by taking a 10K ruck march in uniform at sunrise. It was my first time carrying a ruck that weighed more than 50 pounds. I have so much respect for members of our Air Force who carry heavy gear as part of their regular duty.


How have you stayed resilient during the COVID epidemic?

I have focused on improving my physical, mental and spiritual fitness by working out in this beautiful weather, reading inspirational non-fiction and staying connected to family and friends.


Why is it important for Airmen to stay connected even during times of social distancing?

As a member of the Singing Sergeants, I’m used to working very closely with a small and close-knit team. Social distancing has forced us to find new ways to work together. My colleagues have shown incredible creativity not only in how we accomplish the mission, but in how we come alongside and support each other. When the Bataan Memorial Death March was cancelled, for example, a friend in the unit acknowledged my disappointment by sending me a pair of athletic socks with an inspiring message on them in support of my next athletic pursuit. I’m grateful every day to be part of an incredible team with leadership that has fostered a connected and supportive environment, even during times of social distancing.


If you are teleworking, what are some things teleworking has helped with in your mission?

Teleworking has changed everything and has come with no shortage of challenges. In the National Capital Region, many of us who don’t live on base spend a lot of time commuting. Time previously spent in traffic can now be used more efficiently on the mission.