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Celebrities Honor Troops in Italy

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy, Dec. 22, 1999 – MTV's Downtown Julie Brown bantered and joked with one and all.

Superbowl hero Terry Bradshaw threw footballs into the crowd and tipped his hat in respect to the armed forces.

Six Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders strutted their stuff, steppin' out and kickin' high.

Super model Christie Brinkley shed a military-style flightsuit to reveal a cherry-red cocktail dress and sparkling spike heels.

And the show went on -- with more sports stars, Alan Franken's racy jokes, Mary Chapin Carpenter's country music, Ruth Pointer's soulful rendition of "It's a Wonderful World," and John Carroll and Mary Ann Redmond's rhythm and blues.

More than 600 Marines and sailors aboard USS Bataan, docked in Naples, and another 600 airmen and family members at Aviano Air Base celebrated the season Dec. 21, watching Defense Secretary William S. Cohen's third annual holiday tour and USO show. Two congressmen, a corporate executive, two comedians, singers and dancers appeared on the ship's hangar deck for the first show at noon, and later that evening in an aircraft hangar in Aviano.

Cohen opened the show promising to improve service members' quality of life during the course of the next year. "We are going to do our level best to make sure you and your families have the best housing and the best health care we can provide," he pledged.

North Carolina Congressman Mike McIntyre praised the troops for their devotion, dedication and determination. America's armed forces are the "watch men and women on the walls of freedom" helping to "achieve peace in our time and for all time," he said.

Echoing McIntyre's praise, Virginia Congressman Robert C. Scott lauded America's military for their courage. "We have peace and freedom envied by people around the world," Scott said. "And because you are here with your dedication and sacrifice, we can enjoy those freedoms."

John Paul DeJoria, chief executive officer of Paul Mitchell Systems hair products, expressed appreciation on behalf of the nation's business community. "You are probably the most valuable asset our country has for its freedom and our way of life," DeJoria said.

"On behalf of all the citizens of the United States of America who will sleep safely tonight and then wake up tomorrow morning with opportunities before them that too many people in other countries will never know, I thank you for being here," he said. "I thank you for protecting us."

Terry Bradshaw, a former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback who now hosts Fox Televisions NFL Sunday, summed up the entertainers and celebrities sentiments. "If we bring any happiness at all today to you, you have no idea of the joy and the thrill you are bringing to all of us."

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageFootball greats Mike Singletary (left), a former Chicago Bears linebacker, and Terry Bradshaw (right), a former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback, appear on stage with super model Christie Brinkley aboard USS Bataan, an amphibious assault ship docked in Naples, Italy, Dec. 21. The three celebrities took part in Defense Secretary William S. Cohen's third annual holiday tour and USO show.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageGrammy-award winning country music star Mary Chapin Carpenter (right) entertains airmen and family members during Defense Secretary William S. Cohen's third annual holiday tour and USO show at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Dec. 21. Guitarist John Jennings and singer Mary Ann Redmond accompany Chapin Carpenter. Photo by Linda D. Kozaryn  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageAn unidentified airman dances with Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader Cheryl Gates during Defense Secretary WilliamS. Cohens third annual holiday tour and USO show at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Dec. 21. Photo by Linda Kozaryn  
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