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The Love for Music

Senior Airman Richard Elefson, an 11th Space Warning Squadron mission management operator, holds his flute, Jan. 10, 2020, at the chapel on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo.

Senior Airman Richard Elefson, an 11th Space Warning Squadron mission management operator, holds his flute, Jan. 10, 2020, at the chapel on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. When Elefson first arrived to Buckley, he played with the contemporary praise team, the chapels band, during services held at the Chapel. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joshua T. Crossman)

Senior Airman Richard Elefson, an 11th Space Warning Squadron mission management operator, poses for a photo, Jan. 10, 2020, at the chapel on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo.

Senior Airman Richard Elefson, an 11th Space Warning Squadron mission management operator, poses for a photo, Jan. 10, 2020, at the chapel on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. Elefson has been playing the flute since he was in the fifth grade, but he also loves to sing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joshua T. Crossman)

Senior Airman Richard Elefson, an 11th Space Warning Squadron mission management operator, poses for a photo, Jan. 10, 2020, at the chapel on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo.

Senior Airman Richard Elefson, an 11th Space Warning Squadron mission management operator, poses for a photo, Jan. 10, 2020, at the chapel on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. Elefson has played in marching bands, concert bands, and jazz bands ever since he was in the 5th grade. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joshua T. Crossman)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colorado – Art is subjective, and nearly impossible to perfect, but when you spend so much time doing what you love, nobody can distract you from achieving your goals.

Senior Airman Richard Elefson, an 11th Space Warning Squadron mission management operator, has a passion for playing the flute that helped him become a talented musician.

He played his flute throughout school, and even after graduating high school. He was obsessed with becoming better.

“Every day I would spend an hour practicing new music,” said Elefson. “I practiced it so much, that I felt confident doing it, and it was a lot of fun.”

Elefson enjoyed playing in jazz band, marching band, and concert band. He recalls one of his favorite moments playing was when he played a concert with a high school band while still in middle school.

Once getting into high school, he continued to play at a high level. He faced challenges that seemed to baffle him. He was aware of his skill, and wondered why he wasn’t being selected for first chair. This drove him to push harder for his goal of becoming number one, until he eventually got it.

Shortly after graduating high school, Elefson enlisted into the Air Force, where he went through a period of time of not playing his flute. With a strict schedule that was different then being in school, he didn’t let his enlistment into the Air Force stop him from playing.

“I wanted to do more with music, so what I ended up doing was going to the chapel and joining the music group that would play during service.”

Elefson was playing in a setting that was uncommon with his talent.

“He was the first flutist that I have ever seen in a contemporary praise team,” said Chaplain (Capt.) Travis Barrino, a 460th Space Wing Chaplain.

He would take the extra time that he so rarely had, to practice with the band at the chapel. This did not go unnoticed by his peers.

What Elefson brought to the table was a new musical element that set a completely different atmosphere. Elefson describes his favorite moment playing with the chapel was when he got to perform a solo during one of the services.

“There is no way you could deny his presence within the chapel, and what he brought to the men and women in our worship service,” said Barrino. “He added a flavor that has never been done before.”

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