Superman Pays Visit to Task Force Baghdad Soldiers
By Spc. Erin Robicheaux, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service
BAGHDAD, Iraq, May 25, 2005 He may not have leapt over tall buildings in a single bound or dodged any speeding bullets to get here, but Dean Cain, the former star of ABC's "Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman," and current host of TBS's "Ripley's Believe It, or Not," did fly by plane to Iraq with his new sidekick, actress and model Amanda Swisten.
Hollywood actors Dean Cain and Amanda Swisten express their thanks to Task Force Baghdad soldiers during "Taji Fight Night" at Camp Taji, Iraq, May 22. Cain and Swisten visited soldiers in Iraq as part of a two-week "Ambassadors of Hollywood" tour. Photo by Spc. Derek Del Rosario, USA
(Click photo for screen-resolution image)
They visited Camp Liberty May 22, signing autographs and posing for pictures with Task Force Baghdad soldiers.
The pair is on a two-week mission to meet with U.S. soldiers and to see firsthand how troops are faring.
What seemed to surprise the stars most was how much is actually happening, in relation to the portrayal by the media. "I didn't see all of the negative stuff that the mainstream media reports," Cain said. "This is war and sometimes bad things happen, but those are isolated incidents. I've seen with my own eyes that this is not the whole story."
Swisten, who has appeared in magazines such as Cosmopolitan, and movies such as "American Wedding" and "The Girl Next Door," echoed Cain's sentiments of the real stories from troops in Iraq.
"The media blows a lot of it out of proportion. The small incidents are made to seem much larger. All we hear about are the scandals, like in the (Abu Ghraib) prison. What about the other stories?" she said.
The two were well aware of the dangers of combat missions, thanks to accounts from soldiers. They visited hospitals and spoke with wounded troops, and witnessed the lengths that military medical teams take to save a human life - even if it is the life of an enemy.
"We met a soldier who was shot, ... and the assassin was shot in the head," recalls Cain. "He shot one of our soldiers and then received excellent medical care from our people."
The stars also paid a visit to Camp Taji, where they dined with soldiers and later got a front-row seat at "Taji Fight Night," the camp's weekly boxing event. The celebrities were welcomed as special guests and given a chance to share their appreciation for the troops.
"This (the tour) has given us a great opportunity to show our support for the troops," Swisten said to hundreds of Fight Night spectators. "We are going to go back to the states and tell everyone what a great job you are doing."
Swisten and Cain decided to get involved when a representative from Pro Sports Marketing Ventures and Promotions asked Hollywood celebrities to show their support for the troops fighting the war on terror. Swisten said that it was far from a difficult decision.
"I lost a lot of friends on Sept. 11, and I'm a patriot at heart. I'm an American, and this is the smallest thing that I can do to give back, to go by and say 'hi' and take some pictures with people who know me from a movie or a magazine," she said.
Swisten also said she admires the bravery of the soldiers she met during her visit. "They have more courage than anybody I know back home," she said.
Cain said the scene was different from what he initially expected. "It's not what you see in the news every day. It's a bunch of really strong, hard-working Americans who are protecting the liberties and freedoms that we enjoy at home every day, and we should all be a whole lot more appreciative of them than we are," he said.
Both entertainers said they will walk away from this experience more enlightened and feeling like they know what's really going on. "This has been really grounding to see it for myself, that everybody here is out to do good work and serve their country, even though at the end of the day, they'd love to go home," Swisten said.
Cain agreed. "Being here and living with (soldiers) is a whole different world, and you can see how tough they really are," he said. "If people were to come over here and spend the two weeks that we've spent, their entire worlds would be changed completely around."
(Army Spc. Erin Robicheaux is assigned to the 256th Brigade Combat Team. Army Spc. Derek Del Rosario, of the 3rd Aviation Brigade, also contributed to this article.)