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Hollywood Megastar Fires Up 101st Troops

By Pfc. Thomas Day, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service

MOSUL, Iraq, Sept. 26, 2003 – Silver screen star Bruce Willis and his blues band visited the soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) in northern Iraq Sept. 25.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Bruce Willis and the Accelerators perform for 101st Airborne Division soldiers Sept. 25 in Tal Afar, near Mosul, Iraq, Sept. 25. Photo by Pfc. Thomas Day
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

The 101st stop was just one in a number of goodwill visits on the "Bruce Willis and the Accelerators Touch of Home Tour" this week.

"I didn't see enough people coming out here and supporting the troops," said Willis, who was born on a military base in Germany in 1955. Willis's visit was the 101st's first goodwill visit from a Hollywood celebrity.

"Back home, the news is manipulated by people who would like the American people to believe the war is unpopular. It's not unpopular, especially with the Iraqi indigenous people (who) are being helped," Willis said. "This is the war on terrorism; it's worth fighting for."

The star of "Hart's War" and "Tears of the Sun" -- both films that deal with the military -- tirelessly lobbied to visit the troops for several weeks before getting the chance to see the real-life men and women in uniform. Willis clearly enjoyed himself playing in front of the audience of homesick soldiers.

"I wanted to sign up and fight with you guys, but they told me I was too old," he quipped. Willis also used some colorful language when describing what he would do if he had "four minutes with Saddam" and offered $1 million to any soldier who delivered Saddam's head to his doorstep.

Willis ate a late lunch with Command Sgt. Maj. Marvin Hill, the top 101st Airborne Division enlisted soldier, before flying around the division's area of operation in a CH-47 Chinook helicopter to meet the "Screaming Eagles." The busy day ended for Willis and his band after a one-hour concert in front of several hundred 3rd Brigade soldiers in Tal Afar, a town west of Mosul.

Brigade commander Col. Michael Linnington introduced Willis before his band's set, and afterward presented him with a 101st Airborne Division flag. Willis donned Linnington's desert uniform top for the show after the brigade commander's name and rank were appropriately removed.

Willis left after his performance with a simple message for the 101st soldiers: "Stay safe and God bless you all."

(Pfc. Thomas Day is assigned to the 40th Public Affairs Detachment.)

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