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Profiles: Patrick J. Carroll Uses Music as Motivation

Profiles: Lt. Col. Patrick J. Carroll Uses Music as Motivation
By Lance Cpl. Joshua C. Cox II
Marine Expeditionary Force

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U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Patrick J. Carroll, foreign area officer, G-5, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Headquarters Group, II MEF (Forward), plays his highland bagpipes in Camp Fallujah, July 2, 2005. Carroll has been playing the bagpipes for 10 years. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Joshua C. Cox

CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq, July 6, 2005 — As the sun begins to set around camp here, the musical tones of bagpipes can be heard and servicemembers gather to enjoy traditional songs.

Lt. Col. Patrick J. Carroll, foreign area officer, G-5, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Headquarters Group, II MEF (Forward), has been mastering the art of the legendary bagpipes.

“I actually play highland bagpipes,” said the native of Shrewsbury, Mass. “I started playing them about 10 years ago.”

The Irish descendent takes his pipes wherever he treks, even on deployments.

“That's the mark of a piper, you've always got to take your pipes with you,” he said.

Carroll also plays another type of bagpipes, called the Irish Uilleann pipes, and takes them on his travels as well.

When Carroll first saw the mystifying instrument being played during parades and festivals, he became interested in learning the art.

An encounter with a bagpipe musician also sparked his decision to pursue the instrument.

“I happened to run into a father of a Marine who was playing pipes at a dining out at Camp Lejuene, N.C.,” he said.

Carroll approached the Marine's father at the dining out and inquired about learning how to play the bagpipes.

“How do you learn?” Carroll asked the gentleman. “He laughed and said that he had only recently retired as a school superintendent in Connecticut about three years earlier, and picked up the pipes as a means to keep him busy,” said Carroll.

The musician gave him tips on how to begin, and told him what he needed to invest in to get started.

“He advised me to buy a practice chanter, a pipe tutorial book and then give it a try,” said Carroll.

The chanter is an actual part of the instrument that resembles a recorder, he said.

“I essentially taught myself the basics of how to play the chanter,” said Carroll.

Soon after picking up the basics, his wife purchased a set of his own highland bagpipes as a Christmas gift.

“I was able to learn the basics for the whole pipes by myself, but then made the most progress after joining a band,” he said. “I still play in this band called the Northern Virginia Firefighters Emerald Society Pipe Band.”

The band consists of firefighters, police officers, active and retired servicemembers and a plethora of others from all walks of life. There are roughly 25 members in the band including drummers and bagpipers from the northern Virginia area.

“We march in various parades around the northern Virginia/greater Washington D.C., area,” he said.

Carroll said he plays the bagpipes for several reasons. One is to commemorate his mother, who passed away just before he picked up the instrument.

“I took up pipes after she died to remember her,” he said. “She had always loved Ireland, loved Irish music and her heritage was Polish, Irish and German as well.”

In addition, his father often listened to bagpipe music, which also influenced him to play.

“My father didn't play, but he loved the pipes, and had many records of pipe tunes,” he said.

Furthermore, Carroll plays the instrument to relieve daily stress, and to entertain himself and his comrades. He said Marines come to listen to his traditional and patriotic tones as the sun sets in the evenings here.

“I think it helps other people,” he said.

© 2005 Defend America. All opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of

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