Vice Chairman, USO Show Visit Troops in Afghanistan
By Air Force Tech. Sgt. Adam M. Stump
Special to American Forces Press Service
KANDAHAR AIR BASE, Afghanistan, Nov. 22, 2007
Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and a traveling USO entertainment show visited troops at Bagram Air Base and Kandahar Air Base in Afghanistan Nov. 20-21.
Cartwright stopped in the country as part of a six-day, six-country troop visit, bringing with him actor Wilmer Valderrama, model Mayra Veronica and comedian Russell Peters.
“My intent in being out here is to get those entertainers out here and try to give some of the troops—your people—at least an evening of drifting off into someplace other than here,” Cartwright told senior leaders during a meeting at Bagram.
Cartwright opened each show by thanking the troops for their service and introducing the entertainers.
Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew Antumez, who attended the show at Bagram, said it was great that Cartwright and the entertainers came out, and they provided a fantastic show.
“I thought it was great that they came out so close to Thanksgiving,” Antumez said. “They probably have busy schedules. It was nice to see them there.”
Valderrama, who starred on “That ‘70s Show,” followed Cartwright on stage at each of the locations. He opened by thanking troops for their service.
“We really appreciate, love and respect what you guys are doing here,” the actor said. “We salute your bravery and courage to take this job.”
Veronica, who said she had to write down her thoughts because she was going to become emotional, said troops in Afghanistan are fighting for a worthy cause.
“Thank you for constantly putting your lives at risk to protect ours and our children’s,” the FHM and Maxim cover model said.
“Thank you for missing your families so we can spend a little more quality time with ours," she said. "While you’re carving your Turkey this Thanksgiving, please remember that regardless of our varying opinions on this war, you can be sure one thing remains constant and unchanging, and that is the respect and the pride we feel for all of you.”
Peters, a Toronto native, rounded out the show by performing a 20-minute comedy act, which he opened by making fun of the entertainers.
“This is the USO Thanksgiving tour and they have a Cuban, a Venezuelan and a Canadian whose parents were born in India, three people who don’t know a thing about Thanksgiving,” he joked. “See, they’re really looking out for you guys.”
Army Spc. Leonardo Silva, a generator mechanic who saw the tour here, said the performance was great because of the time of year.
“These are lonely days without our family and this was a great performance,” Silva said.
He said Peters’ jokes and getting an autograph and picture with Veronica were his favorite parts of the show. He said meeting Valderrama was also great because he’s a fan of “The Fez Show” on MTV.
(Air Force Tech. Sgt. Adam M. Stump is assigned to the Joint Chiefs of Staff public affairs office.)