News>Feature - From obsession to ascension: Langley Airman selected for Tops in Blue
U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Kenneth Del Valle-Ruiz, 1st Maintenance Operations Squadron maintenance scheduler, was selected for Tops in Blue on Feb. 1, 2012. Del Valle-Ruiz will attend a six-week training course at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, before touring the world with the Air Force's Expeditionary Entertainment Unit. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Teresa Cleveland/Released)
by Airman 1st Class Austin Harvill
633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs
2/10/2012 - LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. -- The lights are up and the microphone is on. Kenneth takes the stage to perform his song on guitar for the judges. For this ambitious Airman, he finally made it big.
Airman 1st Class Kenneth Del Valle-Ruiz, a maintenance scheduler with the 1st Maintenance Operations Squadron, is an avid guitar player. He decided to take his passion to the professional level, and try out for Tops in Blue. The Air Force's Expeditionary Entertainment Unit is dedicated to boosting morale for deployed servicemembers, as well as aiding community relations at home and abroad.
Del Valle-Ruiz, or "DVR" as his friends call him, went to Joint Base San Antonio from Jan. 8 to Jan. 17 to audition for a position as an instrumentalist, as well as do some performances. Del Valle-Ruiz played for the judges Jan. 12.
After the week-long trip, Del Valle-Ruiz was told he would be notified of his admittance or denial by Feb. 1. By that time, Tops in Blue would call Del Valle-Ruiz's commander to present the result.
The 1st MOS plans to be undermanned in the near future, so letting Del Valle-Ruiz go was a factor for the command's effectiveness.
The whole unit met up with the commander right before the end of the work day to find out the judges' verdict. Del Valle-Ruiz got the job.
"I was the last one to know," Del Valle-Ruiz said. "Everyone heard it from the commander in the morning, but I wasn't there yet. It was great."
What's next for the young performer? He will attend for a six-week training course at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, before touring the world. He is scheduled to leave in the middle of the month.
"I expect the worst but hope for the best," said Del Valle-Ruiz. He will be filing paperwork to detach from Langley, and said he was excited to go to Lackland for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Who was Del Valle-Ruiz before the Air Force? How did he get into music so thoroughly, and still maintain an above-average career in the Air Force? If you ask him, he would tell you he didn't sleep.
Del Valle-Ruiz said the thing he sacrificed most in his life was sleep. With only four hours of sleep on average to keep him going, he used music to help unwind.
"I fell in love with music when I was three," he said. Del Valle-Ruiz picked up the cuatro, a Puerto Rican stringed instrument, when he was about four years old. His mother was a singer while his father sang and played guitar.
Since his youth, Del Valle-Ruiz has picked up a variety of stringed instruments, from the violin to the bass guitar. In addition, he is proficient with a plethora of percussion, and is an avid singer as well; an all around entertainer.
"I would go crazy without music," Del Valle-Ruiz said. He said he listens to music at work and picks up the guitar the second he gets back to his dorm room here. "I don't even bother to change."
As Del Valle-Ruiz got older, he expanded his repertoire of listening. The first song he played was the Christmas classic "Silent Night" played in a unique style on the cuatro. From then on, he dabbled in hard rock, jazz, blues, Spanish folk music and even hip-hop.
Solo play time is precious to Del Valle-Ruiz, however he did join a band here in Virginia. The band, called "The Alternative," fuses together rap and hard rock, as well as many other genres. The band has performed throughout the state. Del Valle-Ruiz is excited to reach the next level in his musical ascension.
"Now that I've gotten better at it, to a professional level, and now that people seem to admire my work, they enjoy the aural pleasure while I boost off their energy and keep enjoying what I love," he said.
2/13/2012 7:21:40 AM ET Wow I'm sooo happy for DVR when he told me he got selected it was like a dream come true for him. I remember when he use to just sing my husband's jokes at the dorms hahaha and he was the same outgoing guy when we served in Honor Guard. Well i really wish the best for him Top's in Blue deffinitely picked the right guy for the job. Good luck to you DVR best wishes from Alex and I