Comedians Bring Laughter to Troops in Afghanistan
By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service
BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan, Aug. 25, 2005 The mountains of northern Afghanistan echoed with laughter today, as television comedy star Drew Carey and four other comedians took their act on the road to three forward operating bases.
Comedian Jimmy Shubert performs for troops at a forward operating base in Mahtar Lam, Afghanistan, Aug. 25. Photo by John D. Banusiewicz
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The tour is the first joint endeavor between Armed Forces Entertainment and the Defense Department's "America Supports You" program.
A big show at the "clam shell" tent here is scheduled for Aug. 26.
The troupe performed for soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines at bases in Mahtar Lam, Jalalabad and Asadabad. Shuttling among the sites aboard an Army CH-47 Chinook helicopter, the comics performed in temperatures ranging from the 80s this morning to well in excess of 120 degrees by the day's last show.
Joining Carey on the tour are comedians Steve Byrne, Pedro Hernandez, Dave Mordal and Jimmy Shubert. Each comic performed individually, bringing his own brand of humor to the appreciative audiences. In addition to the comedy, each performer made it a point to thank the troops for the work they do.
"America supports you," Hernandez told the troops. "You are the greatest fighting force on the planet." The other comedians also stayed serious long enough in their performances to remind the troops that the American people are behind them.
"I think it's great that they came out here to perform for us," said Air Force Staff Sgt. Jessica Hildebrand, a radio operator deployed from Scott Air Force Base, Ill., serving with the Army's 44th Signal Battalion. "We really do appreciate it. Things like this show can really do wonders for our morale."
A pair of Marines deployed from Marine Corps Base Hawaii, at Kaneohe Bay, also enjoyed the comedians' visit.
"It sure does break up the monotony," said Lance Cpl. Ryan Recquin, a fire team leader. "I'm glad they came to see us."
Lance Cpl. Jeromey Hooee said he appreciates that the troops serving in Afghanistan aren't being forgotten. "They do this kind of thing in Iraq," he noted, "so it's great that they come here too."
As they have everywhere they've been, whether in dining facilities, work centers or at their shows, the comedians cheerfully talked with the servicemembers, asked about their hometowns and their work, signed autographs, and posed for pictures.
After their tour of the forward operating areas, the comedians returned here soaked with perspiration, exhausted from the heat and lack of sleep -- and ready to meet more troops. They visited with Special Forces troops for dinner before turning in for the first full night's sleep they'll have had since arriving in the region three days ago.
"This was a great day," Shubert said. "I'm glad we're doing this."