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14th Air Force represented in Spouses Choir on
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Jennifer Wagner (right) poses for a photo with U.S. Army Sgt. Doreen Fajota prior to a live, semi-final performance on "America's Got Talent" Sept. 3, 2013. The two women were part of the 38-member American Military Spouses Choir that competed on the NBC reality show at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Wagner's husband, U.S. Air Force Col. John Wagner, is the 614th Air and Space Operations Center commander and Joint Space Operations Center director at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. (Courtesy Photo)
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14th Air Force represented in Spouses Choir on 'America's Got Talent'

Posted 9/10/2013   Updated 9/10/2013 Email story   Print story


by Maj. Larry van der Oord
14th Air Force Public Affairs

9/10/2013 - VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.  -- "I never imagined I would be involved in such a production," said Jennifer Wagner after a live, semi-final performance with the American Military Spouses Choir on NBC's hit reality show "America's Got Talent" Sept. 3, 2013.

Wagner, wife of Col. John Wagner, 614th Air and Space Operations Center commander and Joint Space Operations Center director, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., was one of 38 military spouses from all branches of service across the United States who competed with the choir performance group on stage at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

The American Military Spouses Choir delivered an amazing rendition of the Sarah McLachlan song "Angel" for their semi-final number. Although the group did not receive enough votes to advance to the final round of the competition, Wagner said the entire experience was unforgettable.

"This opportunity has been amazing," she said. "It has been a whirlwind of hard work, preparation and fun."

Performing for such a massive audience, however, did not happen without overcoming a few butterflies.

"I tried not to think about how far-reaching the audience would be, to include television, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube," said Wagner. "To handle the nerves, we tried to prepare to the point where we could sing our parts in our sleep. Repetition was key, and it definitely worked. Once we took the stage, we knew what we had to do."

The choir was brought together in May 2012 by the non-profit Center for American Military Music Opportunities, or CAMMO, to perform at the Kennedy Center's Spring Gala event. The day after they met and with only one rehearsal under their belt, the group was on the stage with Jewel, Chaka Khan and Chris Botti as the finale of the 2012 David Foster and Friends Spring Gala.

Wagner said one of the best parts of performing with the choir is building new relationships with fellow military spouses.

"Just like when you PCS, you go out of your comfort zone and reach out to those around you," she said. "That's what we did when we first met as a choir. There are many different personalities and military services represented, and we all make it work. I have made a couple of close friends in the choir that I hope will be life-long. Every single one of our choir members is strong, intelligent and very talented."

One of Wagner's more memorable moments of the "America's Got Talent" experience actually took place off the stage. After finishing a very difficult and exhausting practice in New York City, the group decided to visit the World Trade Center memorial. As they were leaving the memorial site, a security guard summoned the choir back to a checkpoint.

"I thought we had done something wrong," she said. "However, it turns out he was a fan and wanted a picture with us. He said something so powerful that day, 'You are singing for some of those who are honored here. Sing those sweet melodies.'"

Wagner said that exchange helped put the tough day in perspective, as well as remind the group that their message of resiliency and commitment to supporting military service is so important.

When she is not busy with performing with the choir, Wagner is very active in the 614th AOC and JSpOC Key Spouse Program at Vandenberg AFB. The group works diligently to support more than 400 men and women in the unit with everything from helping newcomers settle in, to aiding family members during deployments.

"I am honoured to be a military spouse," said Wagner. "This experience has been so amazing because it allowed us to highlight and recognize all the sacrifices and tremendous achievements of all our incredible military families."

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