Time to retire Tops In Blue

By STARS AND STRIPES Published: February 3, 2010

In my 20 years of service I saw Tops In Blue many times. I’m sure those involved are hard-working, dedicated individuals.

Tops In Blue has been around for 56 years, but are they still relevant? Are they worth the money? Does anyone care anymore?

According to a Tops In Blue fact sheet, more than 400,000 people are touched by Tops In Blue each year.

Let’s be honest. Are they trying to mislead the reader into thinking 400,000 people were actually part of the audience? Of those in attendance, how many troops were "voluntold" to go? Every show I attended I was "highly encouraged" to attend by superiors so we would have a good showing and not embarrass the base. Should we support 120 shows a year if we can only fill seats by pushing people to attend?

This fact sheet mentions Tops In Blue travels more than 40,000 miles in the continental States alone. Should we spend tens of thousands of dollars for these guys to "entertain" us in the States? Don’t we have movie theaters, concerts, sports teams, etc., to do this? Do we really have to rely on Tops In Blue? If this is a recruiting tool, what are the Thunderbirds for?

Tops In Blue claims it is a "completely self-contained unit." I guess they’re not counting the air support, ground transportation or extra man hours it takes for a base to help support Tops In Blue.

With two wars, should we waste resources, time, money and personnel to support Air Force singers and dancers?

With a sluggish economy at home and new budget challenges ahead, does the Air Force need Tops In Blue? Is it worth spending our hard-earned tax dollars for entertainment we are forced to see?

I bet most people will say no.

Master Sgt. Bob Pearson (retired)
Aviano, Italy