In 2004, a group of freshmen at the elite Air Force Academy created an a cappella group called “In The Stairwell” — an homage to the rule that they could not sing in their dorm rooms and were confined to performing in the stairwell.
Thirteen years later, the makeshift group is an official club on campus and is currently wowing Americans nationwide each week on the stage of NBC's “America's Got Talent.”
In The Stairwell is led by cadet Mercer Martin and is made up of five seniors, six juniors, four sophomores, and one freshman. On Tuesday, they performed a touching tribute for the semi-finals that brought a tear to more than one eye.
Ahead of taking the stage, a video was shown that featured the group singing “America the Beautiful” and revealed some of the reasons its members joined the Air Force.
“I'll never forget watching the events of September 11,” one member said. “I wanted to do everything in my power to make sure something like that could never happen again.”
Another singer claimed there's “no greater mission than protecting our country and its freedoms and the people that we love.”
When asked what their country meant to them, one singer called it “everything” and another answered, “it's my upbringing, it's my family, it's my home.”
As the video faded away, the stage illuminated to reveal 15 Air Force cadets in their blue uniforms ready to deliver a stunning performance of Ed Sheeran's “Castle on the Hill.”
There were times their military training came in handy, such as this moment when they marched in unison towards the front of the stage:
However, it wasn't all business and the cadets let loose to offer a bit of freestyle:
Their voices and dance moves were enough to make judge former Spice Girl Mel B. shed a tear and even sway the previously unfavorable opinion of another.
“Right before they came on I was talking to Simon and I said, 'I feel bad,' because I do respect the armed forces. I respect what you do. I can do what I can do because you do what you do and I said, 'I don't really love them,'” judge Howie Mandel admitted. “Then you just did what you did and I loved it!”
The performance put the “America” in “America's Got Talent” and along with featuring some of our incredible service members, it was dedicated to all of the men and women who are currently serving our country both home and abroad.
Check out their performance in the video below.