The sound of Technical Sgt. Will Timmons' trombone resonated in the halls of Millwood Elementary School on Thursday, the very halls Timmons walked some 20 years ago when he attended the Pinewood Road school.
"He was a wonderful student and very polite," said music teacher Hamilton Stoddard, who also taught Timmons when he was in the elementary school chorus. "He is a great example for the other students."
Timmons plays in the United States Air Force Premier Band, which is comprised of some of the most talented musicians in the country. The organization plays at inaugurations, military parades, funerals held at Arlington National Cemetery as well as a host of other events. His musical contributions have literally provided the soundtrack to many historically significant events, many of which have earned him a spot playing in the company of the Commander in Chief.
"It's amazing," he said. "Just being there, not far away from the president of the United States some people never get that chance."
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Timmons said he has helped herald the arrival of heads of states and foreign dignitaries, which more recently included British Prime Minister David Cameron. He said he has been within six feet of President Obama while performing his official duties.
As Timmons performed for the gathered fifth-grade students at the elementary school, he encouraged them to find their passion and stick with it.
"Anything great in life will be a little hard," he said.
A son of Sumter, Timmons graduated from Sumter High School in 2003 having already furthered his future career by participating in the music program offered by Brevard College. After graduating from the University of South Carolina with a bachelor's degree in musical performance, he completed a master's degree program at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, also in music performance. More recently, Timmons has performed with the New World Symphony, a post-graduate orchestral program that equips young musicians with the training and technique to hone their musical prowess.
Now, as one of the top performers in the U.S. Air Force, Timmons is seeing how the years of practice and ambition are paying off.
Dr. Johnny Hilton, principal of Millwood, smiled as he spoke of Timmons' success.
"I hope this will be an inspiration to the students," he said. "It's important for them to see a person just like them can be successful in the path they follow in life."