A concert of patriotic vocal music is coming to Tiffin, just in time for the Memorial Day holiday.
4TROOPS consists of three men and one woman, all of whom are former military personnel. The music they perform is meant to express gratitude for those who have served in the military and their families.
The anchor of the quartet, Ron Henry, talked about the show the group if planning for The Ritz Theatre Saturday night.
Influenced by gospel music, Henry competed in the first season of "Military Idol," a show that featured military contestants in the popular "American Idol" TV format.
He went on to lead the Army singing group Transportation Express, which lifted the morale of families whose military parents were serving multiple, back-to-back deployments.
Now retired after 20 years of military service, Henry said he joined the Army in 1988 to gain structure and direction. He grew up in the South and attended college for a year before enlisting.
Then came 9/11, which Henry called "a great shock for our great nation."
He found himself deployed into combat overseas. He spent the last seven years of his military career traveling unprotected roads in Iraq in the dangerous position of transporter and transportation manager.
"I've never regretted making that move and joining the military. I've always been a patriotic person ... It's been a great opportunity," he said. "The 20 years went by so fast. I had some ups and downs through the career, but they've made me stronger and made me a better person."
Henry was the only person in his family to serve in the military.
He said his family has always been concerned about his safety, but he has appreciated the sense of purpose he experienced from his role in a larger cause.
Although others may oppose the war, Henry said he believes the public should focus on the warriors and the personal risks they take to protect and preserve the American way of life.
Now, two younger relatives are about to follow in his footsteps.
"I have two first cousins that just graduated high school, and they both joined the Air Force. I'm very happy and proud of them and their commitment to the service of their country," Henry said. "One thing I love about this country is, no matter what we face, we're able to come together and rise up against enemies, foreign and domestic."
When Victor Hurtado was selecting 4TROOPS singers in 2010, Henry became an original member, recording on the group's self-titled debut CD and giving concerts for active military, veterans groups and the general public.
To promote the CD, the group performed in New York on the decks of the USS Intrepid. That concert was made into a television special for Public Broadcasting System.
"The four of us, when we had a chance to go out and sing on the Intrepid and do a live concert, to see the support of the people ... it was such an honor to see everybody surround us and support us in what we were doing," Henry said. "It's so moving. ... it brings chills now to me. It brought tears to our eyes."
The support made him reflect on his own time in the service and conclude the gains and losses were worthwhile.
The response to the 4TROOPS CD has been overwhelmingly positive, he said.
Songs on the CD include patriotic selections as well as "Dance With My Father," "You Raise Me Up," "You'll Never Walk Alone," "Bless the Broken Road" and "Raise Your Glasses."
Henry said The Ritz audience is likely to hear all of these.
A portion of the proceeds from the CD benefit the American Legion, USO, Fallen Heroes, and Iraq Afghanistan Veterans of America.
"These organizations are doing great work for our armed forces," Henry said.
Three members of the original group have been replaced over the past year, but the format of group's program has remained the same.
Although the 4TROOPS performers are all Army veterans, Henry said they want to pay tribute to all branches of the military and all the civilians who contributed to the war effort.
As former soldiers, they understand music and expressions of appreciation go a long way toward healing emotional wounds.
"I will always, for the rest of my life, as long as God gives me the breath, I will always be an advocate and support for our armed forces," Henry said. "We're going to do covers from our album and add a couple acoustic pieces to make it more intimate. ... We want the people to feel our heart and see our heart through the music and through the experiences we have been through in the military."