HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - On the banks of the Elizabeth River Friday morning, Chaz Stuart and Chris Pearcy honored their friend and fellow bandmate.
"He always had a smile on his face. He was eager and energetic to start practicing and just get back into playing pipes 24/7," said Chaz Stuart, the Board President for Tidewater Pipes and Drums.
Chris Rapp, 54, was one of the 12 victims killed in a mass shooting at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center two years ago. He was also a dedicated member of the Tidewater Pipes and Drums.
"He would come straight from work, change in the bathroom and be ready to blow some pipes," Stuart said.
Rapp was an engineer with the City of Virginia Beach and had been working in Building 2 for 11 months. Around 5:30 p.m. on May 31, 2019, his buddies and bandmates heard the tragic news.
"I remember putting out a buddy check, saying, 'Who is doing well?' and, 'Who is OK?'" Pearcy recalled.
Rapp never answered the call.
"I hadn't a thought in my mind one of our people would be involved," Stuart said.
Every year, the members honor Rapp, offering musical support to a man described as quiet but brilliant and a faithful public servant.
"It's now a part of our story and our history as a band. We can't let that go," Stuart said.
Pipers have a long history of honoring the fallen, but for this band, it hits all too close to home.
"Certainly, as pipe major I never thought that I would have to play for one of my pipers that fell like this," Pearcy said. "It's the identity of our pipe band, and we will keep him and our legacy remembered for years to come."