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'Bumper of My SUV' Singer Signs Autographs at Henderson Hall

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 24, 2005 – The line to have a compact disc autographed by Chely Wright had started to form well before she arrived at the Henderson Hall exchange here March 22.

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Country singer Chely Wright takes a short break from signing autographs at Henderson Hall military facility in Arlington, Va., March 22 to talk to an old friend. Air Force Brig. Gen. Burt Field met Wright when she performed at Kunsan Air Base in South Korea in 2002. Fields is currently serving on the Joint Staff at the Pentagon, which is just a few blocks from Henderson Hall. Photo by Samantha L. Quigley

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

Arriving early for the 3:30 p.m. autograph session, Wright got right down to the business at hand. The CD she was signing includes a song that's become a favorite of servicemembers wherever she performs it: "Bumper of My SUV," inspired by an encounter with a woman who took offense to the Marine Corps sticker on Wright's vehicle.

But the song is not the only reason folks were lining up to have their CDs signed by the country music star. More importantly, they were there because she is an avid supporter of the troops, and the troops know that.

That support and love of the troops is honest and genuine. It's demonstrated in the frequency of her visits to perform for them overseas and in the way she jumped up from the table when Air Force Brig. Gen. Burt Field of the Joint Staff walked in the door. He got a big hug from the star he'd met in 2002 when she performed at Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.

"I took me one second to remember," Wright said. "It's those things, it's those connections where you get to connect the dots. It's really special for me, and I think in turn, it's special for them because they realize, 'Oh, wow. She didn't just come over there and we were just a bunch of guys in green suits.'"

Field said later that Wright's support for the troops is fantastic. Her performances, he said, were a morale boost.

"It's all the corny stuff," Field said. "It's a little slice of home. She connects with the audience because she has the background. That makes it special."

Wright comes from a military family. Her brother is a Marine, and her grandfather and father served in the Army and Navy, respectively.

Wright also remembered the Marine who stopped by the autograph session. Lt. Col. Carlo Montemayor had a photo with him of the two of them at Logistics Support Area Anaconda in Iraq when she performed there. The photo was one of him handing her a commemorative coin during that September 2004 show.

Montemayor, with Headquarters Battalion, Headquarters Marine Corps, said he'd thought of framing the picture, but when he heard Wright was going to be signing autographs in the area, he knew he had to sign and give it to her.

"He'll never forget me," Wright said. "What he doesn't know is I'll never forget him. I have that picture, and I will keep that picture, and it's special."

During that concert, Montemayor said, Wright performed her song "Bumper of My SUV" for only the second time in public. As it did then, the song draws a positive and emotional response from servicemembers.

"The picture that I gave her was a very emotional moment for the both of us," Montemayor said. "I thought it was a very moving song, a very touching song."

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageNancy Quinn, with Dualtone Music Group, right, looks at the photo Marine Lt. Col. Carlo Montemayor presented to Chely Wright, left, during an autograph session at Henderson Hall military facility in Arlington, Va., March 22. In a twist, Montemayor, with Headquarters Battalion, Headquarters Marine Corps, signed the photo of him handing Wright a military coin during a performance at Logistics Support Area Anaconda in Iraq. Photo by Samantha L. Quigley  
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