AR RAMADI, Iraq -- -- Echoing through the quiet night, the powerful notes of the great highland bagpipes pay tribute to the fallen warriors of today’s battlefield.
Sgt. Colin K. Lasch, a 26-year-old logistics noncommissioned officer for 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, brought his Scots Irish background to Ar Ramadi, Iraq, when he hand-carried a set of great highland bagpipes along for his first deployment.
Lasch, who has been playing the pipes for two years now, brought the instrument on the deployment to continue his practice.
Shortly after arriving in country, Lasch found his music could serve a noble purpose in Iraq.
“When our first Marines fell, some people said it would be good for me to play for them,” said Lasch, a native of Charlotte, N.C. “So, I kind of worked myself into their ceremony.”
Lasch attached to the first available convoy into the city and arrived in time to perform for the ceremony that night.
Lasch has played for both memorials and Hero Flights (flights carrying the remains of Marines back to the United States) during his time as a Marine.
Adjusting to his solemn role, Lasch finds comfort in the service he provides for the fallen warriors.
“It’s the least I can do,” said Lasch. “It’s one small way I can pay tribute to the guys who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.”
Lasch plays a variety of songs for the ceremonies, working with the battalion chaplain to augment the occasions properly.
Only one song, typically “Amazing Grace,” is played during memorial ceremonies.
For the Hero Flights however, Lasch plays a variety of songs until the Marines have been carried into the plane.
“Amazing Grace,” “Taps,” “Going Home,” and the “Mingulay Boat Song” are the most common songs played for these types of ceremonies.
Lasch receives praise and appreciation from his fellow Marines for his efforts, but feels the sentiment is unwarranted.
“People thank me, but that is unnecessary,” said Lasch. “It’s a huge honor for me to do this.”
Lasch will continue to serve as the battalion “piper” of 1/6 in Ramadi.
Though he hopes his services will not be required, Lasch stands ready should he be needed again.
“As long as they will have me, I hope to continue playing for these Marines.”