Capt. Joseph Payton
1st Brigade Combat Team PAO
Until recently, if you were to enter Monti Physical Fitness Center or the gymnasium in Magrath Sports Complex, you would occasionally find someone doing something different from all of the other visitors – he would be break dancing.
That person is Staff Sgt. Harrison Scurry of the 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, and he’s currently on tour as a performer with the 2014 U.S. Army Soldier Show.
Before Scurry could become a member of the troupe, however, he needed to garner support from his leadership, a task that was infused with a little humor.
“Command Sgt. Maj. (James) Manning asked me if I wanted him to sign off on one of his squad leaders going to sing and dance for the Army,” Scurry said. “He told me it’s more than that.”
Recognizing the talent Scurry possessed and the prestige of the opportunity, his leadership supported his desire to perform in the Soldier Show.
According to the Morale, Welfare and Recreation website, the Soldier Show is a live Broadway-style variety performance featuring the Army’s best talents.
The honor of being a member of this special program is not lost upon Scurry.
“It’s like an episode of ‘Glee.’ I love it! It feels good,” he said, “especially when I realized the history behind it.”
“Entertainment for the Soldier, by the Soldier” has been a part of the U.S. Army’s heritage since 1774.
“A lot of people ask me, ‘Do they allow you to break in the Army?’ I say, ‘I didn’t know it was against the rules.’”
Not only is there no rule against break dancing, Scurry, also known as B-boy Pumped Dragon, realized that being a cast member of the Soldier Show was important.
“We’re purpose-driven; there’s a message,” he said. “You know, at first, of course it was like, ‘I’m gonna break and be the baddest b-boy ever,’ but it’s not about that. It’s about the ‘Stand Strong’ message.”
According to Tim Higdon, this year’s show, “Stand Strong,” explores the foundational elements of what instills the strength and character of our Soldiers and our Army.
“I use mine to show standing strong with breaking. To inspire that in my breaking, I do big moves,” Scurry said. “You know, like big moves to show people that if you stand strong, then anything is possible. I get to show the message as a part of the show that we’re standing strong after years of war.”
“When my crew came (to the show) they were like ‘this is breaking with a purpose,’” he said. “This was dancing to express, not to impress.”
This message of standing strong is not only essential, but all-inclusive.
“And it’s not just the Soldiers. Not just the active duty. Not just the Guard and Reserves,” Scurry said. “(It’s) the retirees and the veterans, the Families, the extended Families. It’s all for everyone.”
One post performance response left an indelible mark on the b-boy from southeast D.C.
“It was an honor when a lady – it was at Fort McCoy (Wis.) – stopped in the receiving line and said, ‘there was a message. I got the message – ‘Stand Strong.’”
The Soldier Show reminded Scurry of a lesson that he learned years ago after returning from his first deployment.
“Someone does care and it will get better,” he said. “I realized that the Army cares.”
Traveling as a cast member of the Soldier Show is also bittersweet. Being away from his platoon is not easy.
“It hurts. I tell ’em I miss them all the time,” Scurry said. “I still call them and check up on them.”
B-boy Pumped Dragon appreciates his battle buddies, and that appreciation is heightened when participating in a break dance competition.
“When it comes down to it, in the infantry, someone’s always near you. But when I break, if it’s a one-on-one battle, then I’m by myself,” Scurry said.
“In crew battles, I tear things up, but when you put me by myself, I’m like ‘aw, man I don’t have anyone to my left or right.’” “That’s the difference in the fear,” he said. “I knew in combat, someone is always there. I’ll never be alone.”
There is no question for Scurry when the origin of his love for break dance began.
“It started after I watched ‘Beat Street,’” recalled Scurry, whose break dancing name is “B-boy Pumped Dragon” because he likes to work out. “Beat Street reminded me of D.C.”
Although he was immediately drawn to break dancing, his mother didn’t share his sentiments for the genre.
“My mom didn’t approve of breaking,” Scurry said. “So it got put on the shelf for a long time.”
Scurry’s affinity for break dancing was rekindled after joining the Army during his first assignment at Fort Lewis, Wash.
“The dance culture was so rich,” he said.
It was ironic that the Army presented the b-boy with an opportunity to fulfill his life’s dream to dance.
“The Army wasn’t on my mind,” Scurry said. “I was working at Chuck E. Cheese as a gaming technician.”
Something changed after a conversation with his supervisor.
“He told me if I keep it up, then I could work my way up,” Scurry said. “I didn’t see myself working at Chuck E. Cheese for the rest of my life, so I walked over to the Army Recruiting station that was across the street and said I want to be in the Army.”
In July 2002, Scurry departed Waldorf, Md., to begin his life as a Soldier.
Since joining, he has served three combat tours and now serves as leader of 1st Squad, 1st Platoon, C Company, 2-22 Infantry.
His decision to join the Army has brought about a noticeable change.
“I learned a lot about myself. I saw a leadership side that I never knew existed,” Scurry said. “It was like the commercial. I took the Chuck E. Cheese uniform off and had on the (Desert Combat Uniform).”
As a father, Scurry is proud to say his son, Darius, 7, aspires to follow in his footsteps.
“I have to tell him to be careful spinning on his head,” Scurry said. “He says, ‘I want a blue (infantry) cord, and I want to break like daddy.’”
Scurry is a member of the Syracuse Wolf Pack Crew. The Crew annually hosts the Syracuse Dance Project that provides opportunities for children to stay active through music, dance and positive social interactions.