Airman drummer beats adversity with style

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan --

Those who know him would normally describe him as soft-spoken and reserved, but life was and is anything but quiet for this musically-inclined Airman.

Since birth Airman 1st Class Kyle Henaire’s parents believed he was destined to have an instrument in his hands.

“When he was an infant, we took him in for his six-month checkup and the doctors told us Kyle had a musical heart beat,” said his mother, Nicole Henaire. “His father and I knew from birth he was supposed to play.”

Although Kyle’s primary job has him working with radio frequencies and transmissions as a 35th Communications Squadron Airman, initiating conversations with his peers has always been a struggle for him since he was younger.

“We thought he would never talk,” Nicole said. “He only whispered two or three words, sometimes, but after a few years of studying, it turned out he was just a super quiet kid because he is just so thoughtful about what he says.”

Around age 10 he came out of his shell as the joy of music reverberated through his personality.

“I started playing the drums in Okinawa, Japan, when my dad was stationed there,” Kyle said. “The drum instructor taught me all my basic rudiments, consisting of single and double-stroke rolls, paradiddles and flams.”

Kyle said learning those building blocks of drums helped jumpstart his musical journey as he and his family moved to Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, where he met his next instructor, Frank Williams, a Grammy nominee.

“He definitely knew his stuff,” Kyle said. “He helped transition me from the snare drums to a drum set. I realized how important it was to have your fundamentals down.”

Although Fort Meade was a great place for developing his drumming, it was where he faced the most difficult challenges in his life.

“I was bullied pretty harshly because people didn’t like the way I looked,” he solemnly explained. “I got my bike stolen, I was beaten up—it was a horrible time in my life.”

At that moment, Kyle said drumming was the only thing that kept him going. If he didn’t cling onto the little sliver of joy in his life, he could have ended up in a bad situation.

From there, the Henaires finished their Maryland assignment and moved to Buckley, Colorado, where Kyle joined an emerging rock band, with his older brother.

“His dad and I would go to those concerts and would just be amazed at his skills,” Nicole said. “They opened for many well-known bands, and we would watch the crowd say how small but awesome he was at playing the drums.”

Kyle too thinks back on the band every once in a while, reminiscing on that period in his life.

“I definitely miss playing in the band, and I’m happy for them because they’re doing well, but I decided rather than play locally at bars for a living, I would join the military,” Kyle recalled. “I’m in the Air Force now and I’m in Japan, which I couldn’t be happier about.”

He aspires to go to college, make a good living and be able to support his future family and drumming hobby.

“I want to eventually have the means to purchase newer drums and recording equipment and play in front of people again,” Kyle said.

Although he is starting a new chapter in his life, he still translates his love for drumming into his everyday life, and uses it as a way to stay resilient to accomplish his work tasks.

“Everyone in the Air Force experiences stress in one point of their life,” Kyle said. “For me, drumming is the best stress-relief method available. It’s really nice to be able to get home from work, put on some comfortable clothes and hop on my drum set and play.”

He enjoys working in the satellite terminal section, operating the federal signaling box, or commonly known as the “giant voice,” which notifies base residents in the event of an emergency so they can take necessary safety measures. In his free time, he happily works during chapel’s contemporary service as the drummer for praise and worship music enabling him to continue his passion.

“This is not a job, it’s my hobby,” Kyle affirmed. “I love playing the drums and I wouldn’t give it up for the world.”

Once a soft-spoken teen, Kyle continues to walk to the beat of his own drum, moving forward in life one flam, roll and paradiddle at a time; sharing his love for music to all who listen.