Paying tribute to the troops: Capital Cutters perform at Walter Reed

Capital Cutters take a short break from playing. Pictured April Kauffman, Steve Wolf, Phil Ashbume, Barbara Semiatin, Buzz Johnson, John Simeoni, George Ruwisch, Chris Jensen, Kam Agi, Dale Streyle, Paul Deafenbaugh, and Portia Davidson. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by LTJG Ryan White)

Post written by LTJG Ryan White, Coast Guard Community Relations 

The all-volunteer jazz band Capital Cutters paid tribute to recovering war heroes at Walter Reed Army Medical Center with a special performance earlier this week. 

Capital Cutters is made up of a variety of Coast Guard employees – truly embodying a joint effort, involving active duty, reserve, auxiliary, civilian and retired members.  Their leader, Steve Wolf, is a retired lieutenant commander and 1976 graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.

The ten-piece jazz band set up shop in the main cafeteria at Walter Reed and played various sets through lunch.  Their sounds proved to be magnetic, drawing passing medical staff and family members from the hall as they listened to Zoot Suit Riot and Go Daddy-O.

Army Captain Rohul Amin, a medical resident at Walter Reed listened to the Capital Cutters as he ate lunch. “People show appreciation in different ways.  This is a more tangible way. Visitors are always appreciated by wounded warriors,” said Amin.

A Walter Reed physician’s assistant, Ivan Cabonell, agreed.  He was one of the many passersby who took a moment out of his day to appreciate the music. “It’s a refreshing sound,” said Cabonell.

Between sets, members of Capital Cutters visited wounded warriors recovering at the hospital.  As the band made its way from the comfortable setting of the cafeteria, they entered the ward, with the foreign scent of disinfectant.  They approached, with some hesitation, the room of Tim Hall, a young soldier who served with the 173rd Airborne.  What they found in the room is a testament to the fine men and women serving in the U.S. military. 

Hall was hit by a mortar while serving in Afghanistan.  He lost both of his legs due to the injuries he sustained during the attack.  While Tim Hall’s body may have been broken lying in his hospital bed, his mind, and his spirit were strong.  Hall was joined by his mother and father from Nevada as they monitored his progress.  He laughed, joked and answered the group’s many questions about his service to our nation. 

It was clear from the patients the band interacted with that the medical staff of Walter Reed truly care for the heroes who pass through the doors of the hospital each week.  The medical professionals are sometimes overlooked in the work they do.  Cabonell said that the Capital Cutters music “helps the staff as well.”

The Capital Cutters returned to the cafeteria to gather their gear to depart.  During the day they were approached by the hospital’s chaplain to possibly visit again, during the holidays.  While not always in the spotlight, injured service members spend time away from family and friends.  The holidays can make that especially tough.  The Capital Cutters and many others have been willing to do what they can to make each day a little better.

The Capital Cutters groups was joined by Portia Davidson from the Coast Guard Office of Diversity, April Kaufman,  radio personality and Southern Shore Chapter of the American Red Cross board member and Lee Darby, producer and publisher of the Jersey Girl Publishing Corporation.  Kaufman and Darby work closely to help get the word out regarding support for wounded warriors.