Many artists have written songs about the emotions service members face in the heat of war, the pain of loss and bonds of friendship, but few have lived through it.
Lt. Col. Mike Corrado, a future operations officer with U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, sings from experience through his pop-rock-style music and shares the thoughts of his brothers- and sisters-in-arms with the world.
With musical influences such as Edwin McCain, Dave Matthews, John Mayer, Sting and the Allman Brothers, Corrado expresses his creativity and individuality.
“I like to take what I like from various musical genres and mix them together,” said Corrado.
The Rochester, N.Y. native was commissioned in Dec. 1992 upon graduation from The Citadel in South Carolina.
While stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C. as an infantry officer, Corrado began performing at bars and clubs between deployments and in his spare time.
Corrado met his wife, Kate, an Air Force reserve flight medic, at a performance.
“(Music) is what he loves doing,” said Kate. “I support him 100 percent. I can’t let his passion die.”
In 1997, Corrado left the Marine Corps to pursue his music career.
After several years of touring, both as a headliner and as a supporting act to some of the biggest names in the music industry, Corrado’s fifth CD was due for release Sept. 12, 2001.
An East Coast tour was also scheduled to support the release.
Then the world changed on Sept. 11, causing the cancellation of the tour.
As a result of the terrorist attacks, Corrado was called back into service from the Individual Ready Reserve.
In 2005, Corrado was deployed to Fallujah, Iraq for 12 months.
Though he was in the heart of a combat zone, he still found the time and inspiration to write and work on future projects, Corrado said.
“Mike likes to observe his surroundings,” said Kate. “He picks up on the things others take for granted and gets creative.”
While in Iraq, Corrado made the decision to stay in the Corps and eventually joined the active reserve program.
Corrado’s patriotism and enthusiasm are very evident to those around him.
“His passion is obvious,” said Jack Frutchey, a friend of Corrado and a fellow musician. “The patriotism in his music is sincere.”
In his song, “On My Watch Tonight”, Corrado tells the story about a Marine’s journey from boot camp to the front lines, one that many have embraced as an anthem to their lives or as consolation in the grieving process for a loved one, he said.
Corrado gets satisfaction from knowing he influences many people and spreading the Marine message through his music, he said.
Radio play and features in Rolling Stone Magazine and CNN have brought his music and message to the mainstream.
Through his Web sites, mikecorrado.com and www.myspace.com/mikecorrado, Corrado gets many e-mails from high schoolers asking about the Marine Corps and advice on becoming a Marine.
“I love being able to offer advice and represent the Marine Corps for people looking to join,” Corrado said.
Families of service members and grateful citizens also send messages of gratitude for helping them understand what inspires men and women to serve.
“I get calls from people thanking me for helping them comprehend why their sons joined the service,” said Corrado. “I also had a family play the song at their son’s funeral.”
After three and a half years in the making, Corrado’s newest CD, Start Saving Me, has recently been released.
“People whose lives are solely dedicated to music can put an album together in just months,” Corrado said. “It takes a little more time when you have more commitments.”
Start Saving Me, the title track for the new CD, is a follow-up to “On My Watch Tonight”.
In the song, Corrado sings about the emotional rollercoaster military couples endure, he said.
Corrado wants to continue to help people heal through his music, whether it is from the loss of a loved one, the pain of separation, or other stressful times, he said.
“I hope to give people a three-minute vacation, an escape from stress, through my songs,” he said.
During his tour at MarForPac, Corrado anticipates learning about a different part of the Marine Corps than he has already seen.
“Of course, he has his priorities; his family, the Marine Corps, then his music,” said Kate. “No matter what he does, everything ultimately goes back to his music.”
Not everyone fully understands the lives of men and women in uniform, but Corrado sings it out when he puts down his rifle and picks up his guitar.