DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. --
Ceremonies at Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations have had a unique element as of late – the sounds of a bassoon played by an Airman deployed to AFMAO.
For 1st Lt. Laura Lanier, AFMAO deployed dignified transfer officer in charge, her talent has not only played a major role in her personal life, but her professional one as well. Lanier holds a bachelor’s degree in music and spent time in the Air Force as a professional bassoonist. She has performed in multiple ceremonies at AFMAO, including playing “Ruffles and Flourishes” at the retirement of David Sparks, AFMAO senior chaplain.
“I have been to many retirement ceremonies and that was the classiest musical introduction I’ve ever heard,” said Sparks. “I’m disappointed I won’t get to hear it again.”
Lanier first began performing in 6th grade, when she joined her school band in her hometown of Aldie, Virginia and had to choose which instrument to play.
“We had a day where we could go and try all the instruments, and I tried everything,” said Lanier. “At the very end, you couldn’t try the bassoon, but it was there in the corner. I said ‘I’ll play that. That looks cool.”
Lanier continued performing throughout grade school into college where she attended the Cleveland Institute of Music in Cleveland, Ohio and graduated with a degree in Bassoon Performance.
While living in Austin, Texas, Lanier found an audition listing for the Band of the West at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. After auditioning in the spring of 2016 and being selected, she enlisted in the Air Force Nov. 1, 2016. Lanier spent the next year touring with the band across seven states. During her second year with the band, she began to explore commissioning options.
“I just really enjoyed the service aspect of it and thought that maybe I wanted to do something different,” she said. “I had been doing nothing but music for 16 years at that point. When I learned about commissioning, it was really appealing because it was something other than music but I’d still be feeling that I’m part of something bigger.”
She commissioned Nov. 9, 2018 and after initial training, reported to Dover Air Force Base, where she has worked with both the 436th Force Support Squadron and the 436th Aerial Port Squadron. She is currently in a deployed status at AFMAO, but will be reassigned here as permanent party in early 2022.
Lanier still practices the bassoon and says it helps not only with her own resiliency at AFMAO, but her bonds with her fellow Airmen.
“What I love about music is the communication and the connection with other people. It’s really cool that even though it’s not my profession anymore, I can still have that connection with people,” she said. “It really feels nice to just practice and play sometimes because I just want to.”