No matter what your political beliefs are, we can all agree that soldiers merit our highest level of respect. These men and women literally put their lives on the line to help defend their respective countries. There's no way to properly thank them for the jobs they do, which are difficult and dangerous even under the best of circumstances.
On Saturday July 10, we were doing what we often do: hanging out at a show where ESP artists were performing. This time, it was at the opening date of the Rockstar Mayhem Festival, at San Manuel Amphitheater in San Bernardino, CA. That evening, on a spur-of-the-moment whim, we decided to give away a guitar to an ESP fan, because we're cool like that. Now, when we hold contests and sweepstakes, the winners are truly random; we can't pick and choose who gets our gear and other prizes. But every once in awhile, a pretty special person is the lucky one, and that was definitely true this time.
The winner, who found our ESP rep at the show and answered a trivia question to take the prize, was Sgt Nathan M. Halpin of the United States Marine Corps. Nate is a big fan of Chimaira, a band which includes ESP players Rob Arnold and Matt DeVries. In doing so, he won an LTD MFA-600, the Matt DeVries Signature Series guitar. Normally, when we give away a guitar, it can take awhile to process the paperwork and so on, and a couple of weeks can go by before the winner gets his or her new instrument. But this was a special case; Sgt Halpin was scheduled to depart on a five-month tour of duty in less than a week.
We weren't about to make Nate wait until December to get his prize, so we said, "Screw the system! Let's get him his axe NOW!", and overnighted the guitar to him that very day. In exchange for his special treatment, this Marine gave us back a treat of our own: he took the guitar to his base and sent over the incredible photos you see here. It was 102 degrees, but Nate climbed up on a tank to pose with his new guitar. Despite the circumstances, he doesn't even seem to be breaking a sweat. There's a Marine for you!
A brief side note: you may have heard the phrase "Semper Fi" spoken in regard to US Marines. It's short for Semper Fidelis, which is Latin for "Always Faithful", and is the motto of the USMC. It signifies the dedication and loyalty that individual Marines have for "Corps and Country". At ESP, we couldn't be happier that we were able to give a gift to such a deserving person. Congratulations, Sgt Halpin!