The "Guitar Soldier" is stationed at Fort Drum in Jefferson County, NY but who is the "Guitar Soldier" and how has he capturing the attention of people around the world? Is he on his way to being a household name?
Eddie Van Halen is not the "Guitar Soldier" but he is a household name. It appears that everyone from my 87 year old mom, my doctor, friends and my 18 year old son know Eddie Van Halen. That is just my world but ask anyone and most likely they will know the name Eddie Van Halen with the exception of singer Billie Eilish. In 2019 Jimmy Kimmel asked Eilish to name any member of Van Halen and she didn't know who they were.
There isn't a singular reason we know EVH. There are a multitude of reasons that Eddie touched us. Passive music fans in the 80's may have heard the name for the first time when Eddie married, America's Sweetheart, actress Valerie Bertinelli. Michael Jackson fans got to know Edward when he played guitar on the single "Beat It" in 1982. The majority of us know him from the music he created with his bother Alex and various bandmates over the last 40 plus years. With the release of their first album in 1978 the band Van Halen blazed a unique path through the music industry and what made them different than the rest was the innovative and influential playing of guitarist Eddie Van Halen.
When Eddie Van Halen passed away on October 6, 2020 at the age of 65 the news hit all walks of life including the "Guitar Soldier", U.S. Army Recruiter Staff Sgt. Austin West of Fort Drum. In reaction to hearing the news of Eddie's passing West channeled his emotions into his guitar playing, posted a video on social media of himself playing a tribute to EVH and the views haven't stopped as he has rocked over 2 million social media views!
Austin West did what many of us did when we heard the news of Eddies passing. We took to social media and shared our stories of concerts we attended, chance meetings and memories of how much Eddie and his music influenced each of us. You will find it no surprise that West is a guitarist in the U.S. Army Band. So, his tribute came through the sound of his guitar.
Search "The Guitar Soldier" on YouTube to see more from West and to thank him for his service.
From the branches of our military to, doctors, DJ's and everyone in between, Eddie Van Halen will always be with us and forever missed.

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