Final Stop on USO Tour Brings Out Ramstein Troops, Families
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany , April 19, 2012 Service members and families shared heartfelt moments as the USO's spring tour came here today on the final leg of its journey to bring entertainment to troops overseas.
Actor and comedian Anthony Anderson invites a girl holding his picture to join him on the stage to celebrate her 15th birthday at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, April 19, 2012. DOD photo by Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
“What a pleasure it is to be able to visit you on our way home from a fantastic USO tour out into the Middle East to visit our troopers – our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines,” said Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr., vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the tour’s military host.
“Thank you all for being here tonight,” he added. “Truly it is a real privilege for us to see you and your families as we head home and we get to see where some of the most important work is done to support, not only the great job you do for [U.S. Air Forces in Europe] and with NATO, but also -- more importantly, probably, right now -- to support our troopers downrange.”
The vice chairman was accompanied by nine volunteer celebrities – comedian and actor Anthony Anderson; retired Major League Baseball pitcher Randy “The Big Unit” Johnson; performer Jason “Wee-Man” Acuna; actor Dennis Haysbert; Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders Allyson Traylor, Brittany Evans and Kelsi Reich; and former “American Idol” contestants Diana DeGarmo and Ace Young.
Winnefeld and the USO talent all noted during the show how much of a family atmosphere Ramstein Air Base has, with more children and families in attendance than any other leg of the USO tour. The admiral also recognized the special mission in Germany caring for the military's wounded warriors.
“My wife, Mary, and I are both very happy to be here to see families,” Winnefeld said. “It's been a real privilege, I know, for Mary to be able to see the Level 3 facility at Kandahar [Airfield, Afghanistan] and some of the medical treatment we do for our warriors downstream. And it's going to be an equal privilege for us to go to Landstuhl [Regional Medical Center] tomorrow and take a look at the great work that you all do.”
As he has on each stop on the tour, Winnefeld lauded the USO for its decades-long commitment to entertaining America's troops and noted the celebrities receive no money or compensation when they participate in the USO tours.
“I was wondering, because this is my first opportunity to lead a USO tour, whether I was going to have a bunch of big egos on my hands,” he said. “But I found out very quickly that I've got just the most fantastic group of wonderful, patriotic, talented Americans with me here tonight. And it stands to reason that you don't have to have a big ego to come out on a trip like this, and it’s been terrific for them.”
The vice chairman thanked the USO and celebrities for their efforts as he welcomed the Ramstein audience to meet and greet them following the show.
“This is our last real big event, and we really look forward to being with you tonight [and] getting the chance to meet you,” he said.