391st AMU Airman selected for Tops in Blue
By Senior Airman Benjamin Sutton, 366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs / Published February 24, 2012
MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho --
The U.S. Air Force is made up of people from across America whose backgrounds and skills are different and exceptional.
One Mountain Home Air Force Base Airman has a unique skill set which led him to be chosen from across the Air Force to represent the base as a member of Tops in Blue 2012.
Airman 1st Class Nicholas Grazulis, 391st Aircraft Maintenance Unit weapons load crew member, will be working as a set design crew member for the 2012 tour.
"I applied for Tops in Blue because being a theater technician is what I enjoy doing," said Grazulis. "During high school I had a great technical theater director and he helped me get a full ride scholarship to college with it."
A Chicago native, Grazulis attended high school in the city and attended Illinois State University.
"My major had me designing and building props for the performances," said Grazulis. "In 2010, I joined the Air Force because I wanted to do something different but I didn't forget how much I enjoyed the theater."
Grazulis dealt specifically with the area of technical theater he calls "props."
"Props is anything the performers deal with or interact with directly, such as chairs or brooms," said Grazulis. "Working props is a lot of fun but my favorite part of being a theater tech is being able to create something brand-new. I am a creative person and enjoy figuring out design solutions to problems."
Combined he has more than 10 years of experience as a theater technician before joining the Air Force.
"I enjoy my current job here, but I am extremely excited about this opportunity," said Grazulis. "All the Airmen chosen as technicians are going to be split up between set design, lighting and sound. With my props background, I figure I will be a set design member."
Airmen who are chosen for this opportunity will travel to more than 20 countries and perform approximately 120 shows.
"I am going to have the opportunity to be an ambassador for the Air Force and travel around the world raising the morale of Airmen and personnel from other services," said Grazulis. "Tops in Blue is important because it is made up of real Airmen from across the Air Force who have these special talents and audition for these roles."
In January, more than 80 Airmen competed as singers, musicians, dancers, magicians and technicians for a spot in the 2012 show.
"I went to Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, and auditioned by building the stage sets for the potential performers and then had my one-on-one interview with the technical director," said Grazulis. "Fifty-five technicians applied and I was one of seven chosen."
Airmen who are chosen for Tops in Blue have a unique opportunity to represent the Air Force across the globe.
"I think it's a great way to also represent MHAFB to other bases, including some joint bases," said Grazulis. "Those other branches will see MHAFB in the programs for probably the first time. Many may not have even known our base is here."
Although he will not be performing on-stage, leadership from the 391st AMU are excited for Grazulis' opportunity.
"We are extremely proud of Airman Grazulis for his accomplishment," said Tech Sgt. Keith Danico, 391st AMU weapons expediter. "Only a few individuals are selected Air Force-wide for this and we know he will represent the Gunfighters and the base extremely well. He's a great Airman and we are going to miss him. He's a hard worker and Tops in Blue is lucky to have him."
Even though he will be away, Grazulis knows this is a short-term assignment and is keeping everything in perspective.
"I am so extremely thankful for this opportunity to have this experience," said Grazulis. "I also know I could not have gotten there without my fellow Airmen from the 391st AMU."