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BLOG - On the Frontlines

By Amy K. Mitchell
USO, Vice President, Publications

"Big Ol' Truck"

April 26, 2009

It was as though we were flying through the Hidden Valley of Ranch as the Blackhawk shadowed the jagged peaks, swinging from one side of the valley to the other on Day 3 of FOB hopping on the Toby Keith USO Tour. Today, we hopped through southern Afghanistan when lush emerald valleys meet the red desert waves of sand. Afghanistan is a beautiful country with varied terrain -- imagine combining the farmlands of Iowa, the foothills and mountains of Colorado, and the desert scrub of Arizona into one geographic area the size of Texas.

Our 7th FOB was also Toby's 130th performance for the military. On the multi-national base that sits just below Alexander's Castle, Toby opened the show with a birthday song for Christine, a staff sergeant from Wabash, Indiana.

After the show we lunched at the Dining Facility (DFAC) talking about family back home and mutual friends. Then from FOB #7 we headed into no man's land and FOB #8, located a deserted vast plain ringed by mountains full of copper ore to the east. 60 service members were gathered around the stage area to hear Toby, under the full brunt of a 95 degree sun. It was hot, and there was no relief out on the gravel. Sunscreen was definitely a must. In three days we have gone from desert weather with the Marines to winter coats with the Army, and then back to the desert! On some days, we have experienced both climates. Again, an amazing country.

Tonight, the full band performance was at a large air base where over 8,000 service members from not only the United States, but other countries as well, enjoyed a live concert! Last year, the concert at this same location was interrupted by a mortar attack. Luckily, we did not have that issue again this year!