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Puerto Rican Roots Brings Cultural Richness to USAF Band

TSgt Manuel A. Collazo-Llantin performs an event with the Concert Band, a flight within the United States Air Force Band.

TSgt Manuel A. Collazo-Llantin performs an event with the Concert Band, a flight within the United States Air Force Band.

TSgt Manuel A. Collazo-Llantin teaches students as part of the United States Air Force Band's Advancing Innovation through Music program.

TSgt Manuel A. Collazo-Llantin teaches students as part of the United States Air Force Band's Advancing Innovation through Music program.

TSgt Manuel A. Collazo-Llantin performs an event with the Concert Band, a flight within the United States Air Force Band.

TSgt Manuel A. Collazo-Llantin performs another concert with the Concert Band.

TSgt Manuel A. Collazo-Llantin displays his ability to wow audiences with his French Horn playing.

TSgt Manuel A. Collazo-Llantin displays his ability to wow audiences with his French Horn playing.

JOINT BASE ANACOSTIA-BOLLING, D.C. --

This month’s USAF Band’s Artist Spotlight features Technical Sgt. Manuel A. Collazo-Llantin. A French hornist with the Concert Band, Manuel is a native of San German, Puerto Rico. His career in the U.S. Air Force began in 2011 with The Band of the U.S. Air Force Reserve at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia. He then received an assignment with The U.S. Air Force Academy Band in Colorado Springs, Colorado before joining the U.S. Air Force Band in Washington in 2018. 

Sgt. Collazo-Llantin earned the Bachelor of Music degree from the Conservatory of Music in Puerto Rico, and holds the Master of Music degree in French horn performance from Georgia State University. He has also performed with numerous orchestras, including the Puerto Rico Symphony, the Atlanta Lyric Opera, the Colorado Springs Philharmonic and the Denver Brass.

For Sgt. Collazo-Llantin, joining the U.S. Air Force was not a foreign concept. He states, “I decided to join the Air Force in late 2010 after receiving my master’s degree. I have always had the military on my mind as a career, coming from a long line of service members in my family. I finally decided to join when one of my classmates from the Conservatory in Puerto Rico, Technical Sgt. Juan Jimenez, spoke to me about his experiences and encouraged me to audition. The rest is history!”

There are many things that Sgt. Collazo-Llantin enjoys about his career in the Air Force. He remarks, “The best part about my job is that I have the opportunity to play my instrument for all kinds of people, in all kinds of places, and having the opportunity to inspire and set an example for all that are following in my footsteps.”

Being the only member in the Concert Band originating from Puerto Rico, Sgt. Collazo-Llantin’s background brings a depth and richness of cultural diversity to the ensemble. 

“One thing I love about my culture is the music. Puerto Rico has a rich musical culture that stems from all over the world. I grew up listening to ‘Bomba y Plena’ which originated from Africa, and ‘Danza Puertorriqueña’ which has its roots in Europe. Listening to dance music in Puerto Rico while seeing all of the colorful costumes and elegant moves made me very proud and sad, because I can’t dance to save my life!”, he exclaims.

Sgt. Collazo-Llantin further explains, “Another aspect of my culture that I’m proud of is our resilience as a people. It seems no matter what, we face the bad times headfirst and make a party out of it.”

In his time and service to the Air Force Band career field, there are two memorable experiences that stand out for Sgt, Collazo-Llantin. He states, “The most memorable experience was having the opportunity to play for the last performance of the Air Force Reserve Command Pipe Band in the White House and Capitol for President Obama and the Prime Minister of Ireland, Edna Kenny for the 2012 St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. The second is playing with the Polish Air Force Band in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Warsaw, Poland for their Independence Day celebrations. This was a very surreal experience to me. It was my first time anywhere in Europe. We were sharing a stage that had not been shared with anyone else before, as it was the very first time Poland allowed a U.S. military presence participate in their Independence Day celebrations.”

The U.S. Air Force Band is proud to have Sgt. Collazo-Llantin among its ranks, and thanks him for his continued dedication and service.

To view Sgt. Collazo-Llantin’s bio, please click HERE