Country Music's Wynonna Judd Pays Tribute to Troops
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 21, 2004 Marine Gen. Peter Pace blew Wynonna Judd's cover today at a USO concert celebrating National Military Appreciation Month.
Without fanfare from the press or public, he said, the country music superstar has been quietly doing her part to pay tribute to America's troops.
Country music superstar Wynonna Judd shakes hands with Marine
Cpl. Jamale Jones, a Pentagon tour guide, during a USO concert at the Pentagon
May 21. Photo by Linda D. Kozaryn
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
"She does things she doesn't want to talk about publicly," said Pace, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "When the troops come home to Fort Campbell, Ky., in the middle of the night, she's there to say, 'Thanks.'"
"There's so many things that she has done for all of us behind the scenes, that if we could tell you, it would really tug at your heart," Pace told several hundred service members, civilian employees and family members gathered in the Pentagon courtyard for the 10 a.m. concert.
On behalf of the men and women in uniform, the general thanked the music star "for what you do that we know about."
"But more importantly," he turned and said to Judd, "thank you for what you do that we don't know about."
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld also took time out for the 40-minute concert. He hailed Judd as a "proud patriot and a loyal friend of the United States military." He noted that she's recently visited troops at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, performed at Fort Campbell and has been "a long time supporter of the USO, performing as far back as 1987.
"She has been a solid friend of U.S. forces defending freedom around the globe," Rumsfeld said.
Judd opened her concert by expressing her appreciation to the Pentagon audience. "I homeschool my kids and everywhere we travel," she said. "I try to talk to them about how privileged we are as a nation. We live in the greatest country in the world. I so appreciate what you all do."
She said she proudly wears a pin presented to her by the 101st Airborne Division, home based at Fort Campbell, and wherever she goes she tells people "quit your complainin'. We are so blessed to have freedom."
Such concerts are a real boost to the troops and employees at the Pentagon, said Kitty Bryk, a civilian employee with the Office of the Secretary of Defense Support Services Division. "It gives us something to look forward to during the summertime and takes our mind off wondering if terrorists are going to hit us again."
Marine Cpl. Jamale Jones, a Pentagon tour guide, said that while his favorite country star is Tim McGraw, he appreciates anyone famous who comes out to show support for the military.
Pfc. Steven Wabrek, a Connecticut National Guardsman with the 143rd Military Police Company, was one of several Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans recuperating at Walter Reed attending the USO concert.
"I was in Iraq from April to Dec. 27, when I was injured by a roadside bomb. I was in bed for six weeks where I couldn't walk or do anything," he said. "I'm doing much better. I'm actually walking now."
Wabrek said he loves seeing entertainers like Judd come out for the troops. "I've seen a lot of important people come out with the USO and meet us and perform for us." He mentioned David Letterman and a couple of wrestlers from Worldwide Wrestling Entertainment whom he saw in Baghdad.
Army Staff Sgt. Derek Brown, a 15-year military veteran with the 351st Military Police Company, from Rocky Mount, N.C., is recovering from an illness at Walter Reed. "I'm doing fine now. I'm ready to go back. I have to wait for the doctors to decide. I have a bond with the troops over there and I'd just like to go back."
Brown, a rhythm and blues fan, also said he appreciates the show of support from stars like Wynonna. "I think it's great that the USO has these tours to uplift the troops."
Judd first reached prominence in 1984 singing with her mother, Naomi. The duo, known as The Judds, sold more than 20 million records worldwide in six years. They won five Grammys, nine Country Music Association Awards and eight Billboard Music Awards. In 2002, Country Music Television named Wynonna and Naomi two of the "40 Greatest Women of Country Music."
Wynonna went solo in 1992. She's had No. 1 albums in 1983, 1993 and 2003. Her sixth solo album, "What the World Needs Now Is Love," hit No. 1 on the Billboard country album chart. Her recently released single, "I Want to Know What Love Is," is already a hit on the adult contemporary charts.