Zac Brown Band Tours Persian Gulf

The Zac Brown Band performs an acoustic USO show for soldiers stationed at Camp Buehring in Kuwait on April 14, 2010. (USO photo by Erick Anderson)

“Playing our music on the front lines and in front of thousands of America’s troops is an opportunity of a lifetime.  We’ve toured all around the world, but nothing compares to what we’ve seen on our USO tour.  Being able to hear first-hand what it’s like to live in a combat zone and get a true sense of what it means to protect and serve, it is truly amazing.”  That’s what the Zac Brown Band had to say about their first USO in the Persian Gulf.

As reported by USA Today, the Grammy Award-winning band even skipped the Academy of Country Music awards to spend time with the Troops!

Their nine-day USO/Armed Forces Entertainment tour is designed to deliver a much-needed break to Troops serving on the front lines.  So far, they’ve visited soldiers and performed USO shows at Camp Buehring and Camp Striker, touching the lives of more than 4,000 service men and women.

Although this is the band’s first USO tour to the Persian Gulf, they performed at the USO Fort Hood Community Strong event in December 2009; in 2008, Brown traveled along as part of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff USO Holiday tour  in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo, United Kingdom and Germany.

He had this to say about his first visit there with the band: “Journeying back to the Persian Gulf with the USO and performing for our men and women in uniform means more to me than I can put into words.  Music is a powerful tool, it can transport you to another time and place, and connect you with loved ones. And that’s what this tour is all about- lifting spirits and delivering a touch of home.”  Thanks for the support, Zac Brown Band, and good luck tonight!

(L to R) Jimmy De Martini, Clay Cook, Zac Brown and John Hopkins of the Grammy Award winning Zac Brown Band gather together on stage and perform a song for troops stationed at Camp Buehring in Kuwait on April 14, 2010. This is the band's second USO tour and the third for Brown. (USO photo by Fred Greaves)

Zac Brown shakes hands and accepts patches from soldiers to glue on his guitar after the band's first USO show at Camp Buehring in Kuwait on April 14, 2010. (USO photo by Erick Anderson)

Guitarist Coy Bowles of the Grammy Award-winning Zac Brown Band performs solo for soldiers stationed at Camp Buehring in Kuwait on April 14, 2010. During their nine-day USO tour, the band will visit multiple posts, sign autographs and perform countless hits, such as “Chicken Fried,” “Toes” and “Whatever It is.” (USO photo by Erick Anderson)

The Zac Brown Band extends their heart felt thanks to troops and graciously responds to a highly energetic and appreciative crowd of soldiers stationed at Camp Buehring in Kuwait on April 14, 2010. Named “Best New Artist” at the 2010 Grammy Awards, the Zac Brown Band was recently nominated for four Academy of Country Music Awards including “Entertainer of the Year,” “Album of the Year,” “Single Record of the Year” and “Top New Vocal Group.” (USO photo by Erick Anderson)

USO Galas Galore!

It’s been a busy few weeks for USO’s around the world as they celebrate our Troops with galas.  USO of Metropolitan Washington, USO Hawaii, USO Guam, and USO Korea have all put on wonderful events in April.  We’d like to share a few of the highlights!

On April 8, USO Korea hosted their 39th Annual USO Six Star Salute, a salute to the honorable service and sacrifices of military members securing freedom on the Korean peninsula.  Special guests included Washington State Senator Paull Shin; LTG Joseph F. Fil, Jr; Oh, Sae Chang, Mayor of Dongducheon City; Joseph T. McCabe, president of BAE Systems; and the USO Council of Korea.

The Six Star Salute began in 1970 when a group of Korean civic leaders chose to express their country’s gratitude by bestowing the honorary rank of “Six Star” to exemplary enlisted personnel serving throughout the Republic of Korea.  The tradition continues and this year the USO will honor 39 Americans, 39 Koreans, one Filipino and one Thai.  These service members are selected by their commanders for outstanding duty performance, impeccable personal conduct, advancements in education and contributions to the community.

This year, the eighty junior enlisted personnel from the United Nations Command, U.S. Forces Korea, and Republic of Korea armed services were honored and for two days were regarded as VIPs in the City of Seoul; a highlight was the luncheon hosted by the Mayor of Seoul on April 9.  Each honoree received the USO Six Star Medal and also toured the Korean War Memorial, Kyungbuk Palace, the National Assembly of Korea .  Four honorees also received The USO Scholarship Award, an educational grant that will enable them to continue their educational endeavors.

This year's keynote speaker, Washington State Senator Paull Shin, addresses the audience at USO Korea's 39th Annual Six Star Salute.

On April 14th, USO of Metropolitan Washington feted the Troops at their 28th annual awards dinner.  James L. Jones Jr., national security advisor and retired Marine Corps general, and L. Tammy Duckworth, assistant secretary of intergovernmental and public affairs for the Department of Veterans Affairs and disabled Army pilot, presented the USO Merit Award to actor-musician brothers Kevin and Michael Bacon. They often visit wounded warriors recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.  American Forces Press Service covered the event.

Also in attendance were Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. Naval Academy graduate Montel Williams, National Football League Hall of Fame offensive lineman Anthony Munoz, Miss American 2010 Caressa Cameron and author and professional wrestler Mick Foley.  Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Thad W. Allen and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth O. Preston also attended, and the 82nd Airborne Division All American Chorus performed.

“I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that there were some 210,000 [troops] serving as we speak around the world, many in harm’s way,” the admiral said. “They give us the opportunity to celebrate as we have tonight. … We should never forget, and keep them in our hearts and prayers.”  It was a tremendous event and we’d like to congratulate USO of Metropolitan Washington and all of the men and women in uniform who were honored!

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, addresses the audience at the annual USO of Metropolitan Washington Gala in Arlington, Va., April 14, 2010. (DoD photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley)