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AL ASAD, Iraq--(Left to Right) Barbara Leoni, guitar, Lisa Haze, vocals, Sandra Walker, bass guitar, and Max Miller, drums, are The California Girls. The band entertained Marines here April 22. This performance was one stop as the band tours several locations in Iraq. The group has performed together for the past six years playing a blend of classic rock and surfer hits.


The California Girls play in the Iraqi sand

22 Apr 2005 | Gunnery Sgt. Shannon Arledge

Marines from the most remote locations of Al Asad made the trip to the air base theater April 22.  The all-female band known as The California Girls graced the stage for a riveting performance as the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing packed the seats.

Playing a classic blend of rock and surfer type tunes, the ladies of The California Girls moved the room with their harmonious dance moves and guitar and drum solos.  The blonde haired foursome played hits like Hotel California, Sweet Home Alabama, Surfing USA, and some of their original music such as Hard to Tell and You and Malibu.

Performing as a group for the past six years this was their first trip to Iraq.  Their whirlwind tour has taken them to Kuwait, Tallil and Urr, Iraq, and many forward operating bases in between.  Prior to arriving in this region, they had just returned from three weeks in Afghanistan.

"Coming here is rewarding," said Sandra Walker, bass player and vocals.  "My father was in the Navy for 33 years.  I know what it is like to be far away.  The Marines here have people who love them, and this is the least I can do."

This band, along with good looks, and long legs, had the crowd of Marines shouting for more, as the music lifted spirits and boosted morale.

"Why can't there be more of this," said Lance Cpl. Victor E. Shultis, a welder with Marine Wing Support Squadron 271.  "I love it, this is awesome," added the 20-year-old, Ayden, N.C., native.  "They are very brave to be doing what they are doing here."

"I appreciate what the men and women are doing here," said Barbara S. Leoni, guitarist.  "This is a unique opportunity as a civilian to see this."  There is a lot of support for the military back home, but you really don't understand the sacrifice until you experience it."

"I love doing this," said Lisa Haze, on vocals.  "This is the most meaningful event I've ever done.  My grandfather served in the military, and I think it would make him proud to see what we're doing.  I'm proud."

Since arriving in Iraq the ladies of The California Girls have experienced travel by convoys, helicopters and C-130 transport aircraft.  The United Service Organizations sponsored the event, and made it possible for the group to be here.

"Playing for a group like this is probably the most rewarding gig I could ever do," said Max Miller, drummer.  "If I can put a smile on a Marine's face I feel complete."

"I'm glad they came," said Cpl. Jerry R. Cooke, 24, of Marine Light/Attack Helicopter Squadron 269.  "I appreciate their support.  We should have more events like this.  A concert in the middle of Iraq can turn a bad day into a good day," added the Greensboro, N.C. native.

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