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News | Feb. 29, 2024

A Guardian and His Saxophone

By Senior Airman Tiarra Sibley Space Launch Delta 30 Public Affairs

Sometimes even the simplest of hobbies or activities can evolve into a life-long passion. With determination, dedication, and a hint of luck, that passion can lead to the most unlikely of places, or participating in events that would not have been possible otherwise.

Life is a musical journey, after all, and few understand that better than U.S. Space Force Maj. Derick Perry, U.S. Space Forces-Space financial management division chief. Originally from Fort Polk, Louisiana, Perry discovered his passion early-on, played to the sweet tune of a bronzed alto saxophone.

“I had friends in high school, and they were forming a band,” said Perry. “I thought to myself, if I wanted to stay cool with these guys, I need to pick up an instrument.”

Despite initially picking out an instrument for the sake of fitting in with his peers, Perry discovered something more: Inspiration.

“Everyone was playing the alto saxophone, so I told myself that maybe I will learn how to play that,” explained Perry. “Somehow, some way, a buddy of mine approached me saying that someone just gave him this alto sax and he gave it to me; from then on it was just a part of me.”

Perry's dedication to the saxophone is evident in his continuous pursuit of growth and learning, even after 24 years of playing both in and out of the military.

“Every time I pick it up, I am thinking about what new challenge can I figure out,” said Perry. “Even at 40, I am still learning new things about the saxophone. When playing the sax, you play off your emotions and feelings. Playing has been a phenomenal and spiritual part of me.”

Through his journey with the saxophone, Perry has discovered not only a passion but also a source of personal fulfillment and self-expression while playing at the Pentagon, during retirements celebrations, and during pivotal promotion ceremonies. Perry felt a responsibility to pave the way for others who might aspire to follow similar paths. By excelling in his military career while simultaneously pursuing his passion for the saxophone, he aimed to break down barriers and inspire future generations.

“With these opportunities, I knew I needed to be an example,” said Perry. “Being an African American and seeing that there are not many like me, especially officers in the military playing the saxophone. I needed to be the one that said, ‘Hey, man, I made it here, you can do it too.’”