TAMPA (FOX 13) - Senior Airman Jan Nirza can sing. He really belts it out, Robert Goulet-style. He says he isn't classically or professionally trained, but his vibrato and sustain are 'ear-candy' good.
Jan serves at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, where he has been stationed for nearly three years. He often sings at functions on base -- command changes, birthday parties; any celebration or ceremony.
"I [also] sing at my Catholic church," said Airman Nirza, "Sacred Heart in downtown Tampa."
The Major League All-Star game in Miami on Tuesday, July 11 served as the stage for Jan Nirza's grandest performance yet. In dress blues, Nirza delivered a stirring rendition of "God Bless America" to a worldwide audience on the FOX broadcast.
"I can't believe that I did that," said Nirza. "Definitely the most wonderful experience of my life. The love and support coming from the actual audience is overwhelming. My office sent me a video [for support] before the performance. MacDill Public Affairs supported me so much during that event. The 6th Air Mobility Wing supported me. I never felt alone on that field."
The 23-year-old credits his grandfather for motivating him to serve and to sing. His grandfather was attached to the U.S. forces during World War II.
"I would not be here if not for him," Nirza continued. "I just want to make him proud."
Sadly, Jan's grandpa passed in 2011, but the airman is confident he was watching Tuesday night along with the rest of the world.
One of the most amazing parts of his story is that Jan Nirza was born in the Philippines. He has only been in the states for a little over five years. His first language is not English, yet, to hear him sing you would never know.
"My first language is Tagalog from the Philippines. And I do understand a dialect called Ilocano, which is a tribal language," he explained.
Jan Nirza's years in the states have made him fluent in English. He plans to serve 20 years in the service and is working on a bachelor's degree in nursing. He would love to make Tampa his permanent home.
"I love Tampa," he added with a smile. "It's definitely the place to be. If I want to retire one day, I want it to be here."