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USO Tour Enters High Gear During Show in Kuwait

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait, Dec. 17, 2007 – It was a rocking and rolling time at this logistics base, as the Chairman’s USO Holiday Tour entered high gear today.

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Comedian Robin Williams signs autographs for servicemembers at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, Dec. 17, 2007, during the second stop of the 2007 USO holiday tour. Tour host Navy Adm. Michael G. Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was joined by award-winning recording artist Kid Rock, Miss USA Rachel Smith, comedian Lewis Black and seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong on the 15-stop,seven-country tour thanking the forward deployed troops for their sacrifice and service. Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley, USN
  

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

Navy Adm. Michael G. Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, brought Robin Williams, Lewis Black, Kid Rock, Miss USA Rachel Black and Lance Armstrong to entertain the troops and thank them for their service.

Two sailors sitting in the crowd were singing along with Kid Rock as the Detroit rocker belted out “Sweet Home Alabama.” One turned to the other and said, “All that karaoke is paying off, huh?” They “high-fived” each other and kept on singing.

More than 1,000 servicemembers sat in the stands, crowded the stage, brought arm chairs and laughed along with Williams and appreciated the absurdities of life with Black. They listened as six-time Tour de France winner Armstrong spoke of his philosophy, and all appreciated Smith’s heartfelt thanks for the job they do day in and day out.

With Christmas a week away, Mullen passed his holiday greetings to servicemembers. “I’d like to express my appreciation for what you do, not just for the nation, but for the world,” he said. “You are making a big difference in a very challenging part of the world.”

Mullen said he knows it is a hard time to be away from family. “We know that, and we keep them in our thoughts and prayers, and we hope we can bring a little cheer during this holiday season for you as you serve on this deployment,” he said. “You could not be as successful on this deployment without the support of those families, and we’re extremely grateful for all the things that they do to make your service possible.”

After the show, the entertainers posed for pictures with servicemembers. Mullen walked into the crowd just to speak with servicemembers and drew almost as many to meet him as the entertainers did.

The servicemembers were still pumped well after the show. “We love it when these guys come out,” said Army Sgt. Jeremiah Smith, a truck driver with 2nd Transportation Battalion here. “This is my third trip here, and I’ll tell you, this is the best thing they can do for morale.”

Army Spc. Brandon “Doc” Watson, of Alabama’s 1st Battalion, 167th Infantry, had driven a truck all day from Iraq. “I heard they were having Robin Williams and Kid Rock, and I just couldn’t go to bed and miss that,” he said. “These guys deserve a lot of credit for coming out here and doing this. They have families, too, and you know they want to celebrate Christmas with them, but here they are.”

“That’s right,” said Army Staff Sgt. Tracy Warner, of 3rd Army headquarters here. “We don’t have a choice. We were ordered here, and we’ll serve. But they have a choice. And their choice was to come here and give us some happiness.”

The Holiday Tour continues through the week. The chairman’s party will visit other countries in the Middle East, Central Asia and Europe.

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Biographies:
Entertainers Begin Holiday Tour of Overseas Bases

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageSeven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong tosses footballs to servicemembers at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, Dec. 17, 2007, during the second stop of the 2007 USO holiday tour. Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley, USN  
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