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MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — An airman from this northern Japan base, who grew up singing in his church, is one of two Pacific Air Forces members named to the 2004 Tops in Blue team.

Airman 1st Class Antonio Dandridge, a heating, ventilation and cooling journeyman with the 35th Civil Engineer Squadron, will be a male vocalist for Tops in Blue when the Air Force’s expeditionary entertainers embark on their annual international tour later this year.

Joining Dandridge will be female vocalist Airman 1st Class Jennifer Richardson from Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii.

The PACAF airmen were among the 27 chosen from a pool of about 70 Air Force contestants who competed last month in the 2004 Air Force Worldwide Talent Contest at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.

“It’s a blessing and an honor to be able to use my gift and be recognized for it,” Dandridge said. “Never in a million years would I think to have been in this position. God continues to open doors I never thought were there.”

A member of the Greater Love Missionary Baptist Church in Misawa, Dandridge said he learned to sing early in life.

“I began singing at church and home as a child,” he said. “My father was a minister of music at church and music filled our home.”

Contestants for the 2004 team competed in four major categories: male and female vocals, instrumental and musical variety. They also were judged on personal interviews.

Prior to being invited to Lackland, airmen had to submit videotaped auditions. Military officials said they received hundreds of applications this year.

Dandridge won first place in the male vocalist competition. He departed last week for three months of rehearsal at Lackland.

Tops in Blue puts on an average of 120 performances at 100 locations worldwide, Air Force officials said. The 2004 schedule has yet to be announced.

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