Editor’s Note: This is an updated version of a story that was published in the May 2023 issue of The Rant.

It all started with a rendition of “My Girl” while lying on a dropzone with parachute gear that went viral on TikTok last July. 

Staff Sgt. Marcus Gilbert and his fellow soldiers in the 82nd Airborne Division All-American Chorus have shot to fame in the last eight months since the video captivated the country. Now, the group has advanced all the way to the finale of the popular NBC talent competition show “America’s Got Talent.

The group earned a spot in the finale on Wednesday night with their version of Pink’s “I Am Here.” Gilbert and his fellow soldiers will compete in the final episode next week.

Gilbert is an assistant coach on the Southern Lee High School men’s soccer team and resides in Sanford with his wife, Jessica. 

The viral video has led to “15 minutes of fame,” Gilbert joked back in May, including appearances at high-profile events and a spot on The Today Show. The America’s Got Talent episode aired on May 20. Since then, he’s done events up and down the east coast and will head to Normandy, France, for the D-Day memorial event in November.

The group will not be able to accept the $1 million prize if it wins. But just getting there was a win in itself, he said in April.

“It took a lot of convincing with the Army to let us compete on the show,” Gilbert said. “That’s not something we do as soldiers. We are donating anything we win to charity.”

He said when his kids on the soccer team found out, they immediately made him sing.

“They’ve enjoyed taking advantage of me,” he said. “They make me sing on the bus for away games, and I sing the national anthem at all of our games now.”

The singing gig is a sharp contrast to his day job. Gilbert is a “chemical soldier,” he said – a part of the Army’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosives (CBRNE) team – and is on the front lines of the most deadly attacks our military faces. He will likely have to leave Fort Liberty and the singing group to continue this career. The fame is a nice break, but not something he wants to do full-time. 

“For right now, I’m enjoying it,” he said. “I love to sing.”