G.I.s Shine in Holiday Starlight
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 22, 2000 "See that guy over there, he's won four Super Bowls," a thrilled airman said to his buddy when Terry Bradshaw, in Pittsburgh Steelers regalia, walked into a hangar at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.
"Now that's a sight you don't see every day," Pfc. Jeffrey Bungabong, of Seattle, Wash., said when the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders took the stage at Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo.
"Carole King has always been one of my favorites," said Ed Mobley while waiting his turn to have his picture taken with the Grammy award winner. Retired from the Air Force, Mobley now heads protocol at Bondsteel's Joint Visitors Bureau.
After dining with singer Ruth Pointer-Sayles at Task Force Eagle headquarters in Tuzla, Bosnia, Air Force Tech. Sgt. Ivan Walker of Warrenton, N.C., said, "I never thought I'd meet any of the Pointer Sisters, but now I can tell everyone I did."
Soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines from the Mediterranean to the Balkans had a chance to meet and greet the stars Dec. 16 to 19 when Defense Secretary William S. Cohen's holiday USO tour visited Europe. It was the secretary's fourth and final holiday tour since taking office in 1996.
Along with Bradshaw, the Cheerleaders and King, the traveling troupe included Mike Singletary, Football Hall of Fame linebacker of the Chicago Bears and Baseball Hall of Fame Cubs shortstop Ernie Banks. Singers Ruth Pointer- Sayles, Jewel and Shane Minor, were accompanied on keyboard and guitar by Jon Carroll, Rudy Guess, Phil Symonds and Arlan Schierbaum.
Comedian Al Franken, an alumnus of Saturday Night Live, gave his unique view of current events and returned what he humorously claimed were service members' absentee ballots. Ty Murray, a world champion rodeo star, White House official Thurgood Marshall Jr., and others paid tribute to the G.I.s.
At each stop, the stars on behalf of the folks back home thanked the troops for their service and sacrifice. There was no shortage of takers as celebrities and entertainers willingly signed autographs and posed for pictures with those they dubbed America's heroes.