County Road 12: Millbrook man brings cheer with bagpipes

Updated: Apr. 23, 2021 at 12:21 PM CDT
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MILLBROOK, Ala. (WSFA) - Mike Jeffries can pretty much do it all. The Millbrook resident flies planes, plays music and can pretty much make anything out of wood or metal. The Auburn University graduate has quite a story.

We begin with his time in the service.

“So on the 16th of December in 1965, I was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant and off to Quantico,” said Jeffries.

After years of training, he ended up flying helicopters with the Marines.

“I flew U-H-1 gunships.”

Jeffries saw a lot in Vietnam.

“It was a war zone. You were getting shot at every day. You didn’t get scared because if you dwelled on the possibility you might get tagged, you’d be a nervous wreck. You wouldn’t be able to do your job you know? You just gotta trust in luck and the Lord,” he said.

A lot of the sights and sounds he’d like to forget, but there’s one sound that stuck with him long after he got out of the Marines.

“The colonel says gentlemen come join me at the bar. So we trapes into the bar and I’m about half my through my glass of whiskey and we hear this “wahhhh” sound, and here comes Doug Dexter marching in full dress blues playing the Marine Corps hymn on the pipes. That was cool.”

Of course life happens. He got out the military and took a job in Texas. Then one day, a church he ran into a man who played the bagpipes and gave lessons. So 40 years after his marine buddy played the pipes in that bar, it was finally his turn to learn.

“You start with this. It’s a practice chanter. It’s the mouthpiece and the keyboard without all the other rigmarole,” Jeffries said.

When the pandemic hit and everyone was stuck at home, Jeffries decided it was time to share the sound he loves.

“When you want to crank the pipes up, you gotta go outside. So there I am outside with people stopping and waving.”

Neighbors say during some dark times, Jeffries brought some light to the whole neighborhood.

“People from up the road, they have a golf cart. They jumped in to see who was making all the noise.”

A Marine with some pipes is providing some much needed smiles in Millbrook.

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