Jul 28, 2014
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Blasting Royal Bagpipes in Imperial Beach

Gary Watkins "loves the bagpipes" and learned how to play 20 years ago. Last summer, he played for Queen Elizabeth II.

Gary Watkins has lived in Imperial Beach for the past 10 years.

20 years ago, he started playing the bagpipes.

His first lessons came from the Veterans Pipe and Drums in Winnipeg, Canada.

"I had a chanter, which is a practice instrument, and it sounded like a sick goose, so I found a band to teach me," he said.

Watkins grew up in Canada but is now an American citizen.

"Right when I was 18, I came down and joined the military," he said, a Navy veteran who served in Vietnam.

As a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force band, Watkins played for Queen Elizabeth II during her trip to Canada last summer.

Here he is playing a song called "Hector the Hero."

Correction: The original version of this story stated that Watkins was a Navy SEAL. Text has been changed to read that he was a Navy veteran. Watkins was a door gunner from 1967 to 1968 with Helicopter Attack Light Squadron Three, also known as the Seawolves, who served closely with and alongside Navy SEALs. The exact nature of his service was confirmed with members of HA(L)-3 Seawolf Association.

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