Camp Pendleton Marine Staff Sgt. Alex Panos was picked as a top musician in the Marine Corps.
Panos, a trombone player in the 1st Marine Division Band, was named 2015 Staff Non-Commissioned Officer Musician of the Year for his significant contributions to his unit and the Corps.
Panos has served nearly a decade in the Marine Corps and was deployed to Afghanistan. He was chosen largely because of his leadership and mentorship of Marines along with his skill in the top two percent of the Corps.
Before joining the Marines, the San Diego native worked gigs with San Diego Symphony, local groups, brass quintets and various bands. He graduated from Christian High School in El Cajon before attending San Diego State University, where he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in music performance.
He decided to join the Corps after a Marine musician recruiter he did a concert with asked if he considered joining the Marines.
He auditioned to be a musician in the Marine Corps, passed, went to boot camp, Marine Combat Training, The Naval School of Music, then to his first band which was Marine Band San Diego, at the Marine Recruit Depot San Diego.
"I am a Marine first and musician second," said Panos, 1st Marine Division Band small ensemble leader.
He joined the 1st Marine Division Band five years ago and has participated in advanced music training in Virginia.
Panos has performed as a featured soloist at the 1st Marine Division Band's annual concert series at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido, and recently returned from a regional Brass Quintet Recruiting Tour through New Mexico, Colorado and Texas.
"Being a Marine Musician has allowed me to take the skills I honed during my college years and use them to serve my country as a Marine," Panos said. "I get to simultaneously serve and perform with other like-minded Marine Musicians and the comradery is second to none."