Mullen Shares His USO Memories on Holiday Tour
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
TAQQADUM, Iraq, Dec. 18, 2007 Navy Adm. Michael G. Mullen fondly remembers the smiles entertainers brought to the faces of his crews, and he is seeking to spread those smiles around Iraq.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Adm. Michael G. Mullen introduces Miss USA Rachel Smith during a USO holiday tour stop in Kuwait, Dec. 18, 2007. Along with Smith, Mullen was joined by comedians Lewis Black and Robin Williams, seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong and award-winning recording artist Kid Rock in the 15-stop, seven-country tour thanking the forward deployed troops for their sacrifice and service. Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley, USN
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff led the Chairman’s USO Holiday Tour here today, and about 1,800 servicemembers roared their approval.
Robin Williams headlined the show. This is the star’s fourth USO run through the combat zones. Joining Williams is actor-comedian Lewis Black, singer Kid Rock, Miss USA Rachel Smith and seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong. Irish tenor Ronan Tynan will join the tour later in the week.
Mullen said his connections to the USO go back a long way. His first experience with the USO was in 1970. He had just married his wife, Deborah, and he moved from the West Coast to the East Coast.
“I went to New York City, and the first place I went was the USO booth because of their reputation and because of what I’d seen through the 1960s and 1970s,” he said during an interview. “I saw how the entertainers made such a difference and uplifted those who were serving away from home in a tough environment.”
Through his career, Mullen has spent many years at sea. “I have always sought to make sure that my crews got to see these entertainers whenever they could,” the admiral said. “They always brought a smile, and that to me is what this is all about. This is a great group of entertainers who have taken time out of their lives to come here for the troops.”
Mullen said he appreciates all that the USO has done to bring this show together. “I hope we can reach out to more entertainers to do this not just over the holidays and make it year-round,” he said.