First-ever holiday tributes by "Fox NFL," "The Late Show with David Letterman" and "MTV" highlight Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen's Dec.15-20 holiday visit to U.S. troops stationed in Germany, the Balkans and the Mediterranean.
On his annual holiday visit to American servicemen and women deployed overseas, Cohen is scheduled to be joined by singers Carole King, Jewel, Ruth Pointer-Sayles, Shane Minor and Jon Carroll; comedian Al Franken; professional football Hall of Famers Terry Bradshaw and Mike Singletary; Chicago Cubs baseball Hall of Famer Ernie Banks; former senator and astronaut John Glenn; film director Jerry Bruckheimer; Medal of Honor recipients Sammy Davis and Alfred Rascone; MTV veejay Ananda and the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders.
They will perform four shows for U.S. troops during the five-day visit: on Saturday, Dec.16, aboard the USS Harry S. Truman; on Sunday, Dec. 17, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany; on Monday, Dec. 18, at Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo; and on Tuesday, Dec. 19, in Tuzla, Bosnia.
The USO will provide technical support for the four shows, to be emceed by MTV's Ananda. Portions of the shows will be taped for broadcast later on MTV.
Also this year, AT&T plans to provide free phone calls for some 40,000-plus soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen and Coast Guardsmen. Oracle Corp. also is donating 500 computers for U.S. troops to use while assigned to the Balkans.
"We are delighted that David Letterman, the 'Fox NFL' team, AT&T, 'MTV' and Oracle have taken these wonderful initiatives to recognize America's outstanding men and women in uniform who serve their nation at home and abroad every day of the year," said Cohen. "My wife, Janet, and I want to express our deep appreciation for these pioneering efforts to 'virtually reconnect' American troops abroad with the American family at this holiday season."
"Fox NFL Saturday" and "Fox NFL Sunday" are scheduled to air from the deck of the USS Harry S. Truman on Dec. 16 and 17. Pre-game and half-time shows will be taped and flown to satellite uplink facilities in Europe for same-day broadcast throughout the United States.
Cohen and his wife raised the idea of an on-board broadcast with "Fox NFL" co-host Terry Bradshaw following last year's holiday visit to U.S. troops abroad. Bradshaw was among the sports and entertainment figures who accompanied Cohen on the 1999 holiday tour.
While on board the USS Harry S. Truman, the Cohens also will participate in a special holiday phone call which will link several Navy and Marine Corps personnel with their families in Chicago; Bellerose, Queens, N.Y.; Lewisville, Texas; Jamison, Pa. and Berkley, Mass.
"The Late Show with David Letterman" will present a special, first-ever live-via-satellite broadcast linking its New York studio audience with more than 1,000 U.S. troops in Bosnia on Dec. 19. The late-night talk show host also has invited United States-based troops to attend the show in New York.
As a holiday present for U.S. men and women in uniform, Letterman and his crew have worked with Pentagon and European Command personnel on a live satellite hook-up which will allow the troops in Bosnia to see and interact with Letterman and his guests. The program will include a special armed forces-themed top 10 list and a guest appearance by Academy Award-winning actor Tom Hanks. In addition to its U.S. audience, "The Late Show with David Letterman" will be broadcast to a worldwide U.S. military audience via the Armed Forces Network.
Also joining Cohen is Bill Baumann, director of Military Markets for AT&T. AT&T will continue its long tradition of support for US military personnel around the world, including the donation of free calls in the form of AT&T Global PrePaid cards to the more than 40,000 land- and shipboard-based servicemen and women; retail value of the prepaid cards is more than $300,000.
For more information, please call Air National Guard Lt. Col. Mike Milord at (703) 695-2528 or overseas, Tuzla, Army Maj. Douglas Dankworth, 011-387-35-814-283; Camp Bondsteel, Army Staff Sgt. Brian Thomas, 011-49-621-730-781-5079; Ramstein Air Base, Maj. Mike Young, 011-49-637-147 6564; USS Harry S. Truman, Navy Capt. Steve Honda, 011-39-081-568-4804 or 4892.
For Chicago, Navy Lt. Cmdr. R.L. "Dane" Lajoye, (312) 606-0360; for Bellerose, N.Y., Navy Lt. Cmdr. Dave Waterman, (212) 784-0131; for Lewisville, Texas, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jack Todd, (214) 767-2553; for Jamison, Pa., Sherri Jones, (215) 522-2638,or (215) 443-1776, and for Berkley, Mass., Marine Sgt. Matthew Butler, (413) 594-4623.