Back in Black … er, camo. Comedian Lewis Black gets ready to fly to another forward operating base during a 2008 USO entertainment tour. USO photo by Dave Gatley
Spring is fast approaching. That also means USO entertainment tours are gearing up across the world.
A trio of NFL stars just visited bases in the Middle East. The Band Perry is slated to preform for troops Monday in England at and the Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families is set to launch another year of touring on April 4.
Earlier this week, Politico highlighted two comedians – Roy Wood Jr. and Lewis Black – who’ve taken the USO stage to bring laughs to troops.
“You’re not getting the same kind of sense of self-worth when you get off the stage in Iowa on a Thursday night as you did entertaining a bunch of men and women who just want a slice of home,” Wood said.
Wood – a regular on TBS’ “Sullivan & Son” - wrapped a USO tour to Guam and the Philippines earlier this month.
The Politico story also quoted Black. The legendary stand-up comedian and frequent contributor to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart has been on three USO tours.
“You go to perform for the troops it’s what it must have been like performing at Woodstock,” Black said. “It’s extraordinary. … The amount of energy that you get on the stage is like nothing — I don’t know what else to compare it to. It’s like an adrenaline rush. They’re so thrilled that you are there. .. It was one of the most extraordinary times in my life.”
You can read the full Politico story on USO tours here.
The Marine Corps Trials – where wounded, ill and injured Marines and Corps veterans qualify for Warrior Games – kicked off today in Camp Pendleton, Calif. The USO of San Diego supports the competition, offering on-site volunteer help and other activities throughout the week. In this video, Camp Pendleton’s Marc Diaz takes us through what it means for these injured Marines to compete at the trials.
It’s football season downrange.
While the official NFL season ended last month, a trio of professional football players are continuing the tradition of traveling to the Middle East for an offseason USO entertainment tour. New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham, Washington Redskins receiver Pierre Garcon and Miami Dolphins punter Brandon Fields are currently meeting, playing catch with, and even getting carried around by (see the slideshow above) U.S. troops downrange.
“This experience for me has truly been life-changing,” said Graham, who caught an NFL-best 16 touchdowns last season. “The personal connection I’ve been able to make is something that will be with me forever. I grew up in a military home and this just makes me more of a patriot. I have more of an appreciation for the little things we have back home each and every day.”
Adaptive sports have become a gateway to both recovery and normalcy for wounded, ill and injured troops. This week, the USO is supporting the Marine Corps Trials at Camp Pendleton, Calif., where wounded warriors compete in wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, track and field, swimming, archery and shooting for a chance to represent the Marine Corps in September at the 2014 Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, Colo.
-USO photos by Joseph Andrew Lee
USO Houston hosted around 1,200 troops and family members this past weekend at the World’s Championship Bar-B-Que on the grounds of Reliant Stadium in Houston. The exclusive event is a prelude to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, which takes place at the same venue over the next three weeks. USO tour veteran and “BBQ Pitmasters” star Johnny Trigg cooked on the USO’s behalf in the competition.
The No. 47 Kroger Chevrolet – driven by AJ Allmendinger – roars around Daytona International Speedway. The Kroger-sponsored car featured the USO logo during Sunday’s Daytona 500. Courtesy photo
The No. 47 Kroger Chevrolet – driven by AJ Allmendinger – featured some specialty sponsor signage in the form of a USO logo during Sunday’s Daytona 500.
“It’s so cool to see the Kroger Co. partnering with the USO again this season to Honor Our Heroes,” Allmendinger said in a pre-race release. “It’s a nice way to recognize America’s troops and their families.“
Allmendinger had a great start to Daytona week, recording the fastest lap during Wednesday’s practice session and leading the race through 83 laps. However, a cracked right rear caliper kept him on pit road for long stretches, limiting him to a 26th-place finish.
Kroger’s Honoring Our Heroes initiative encourages the public to learn about what Kroger and the USO are doing every day to help America’s troops and their families. You can find out more about the campaign and how to get involved at honoringourheroes.com.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. – another driver who knows something about supporting service members – took the checkered flag Sunday night. Earnhardt spoke with the USO’s magazine On Patrol in 2012 about taking time out to meet America’s troops.