A Special Shout Out from American Idol’s Kris Allen!

Kris Allen energized hundreds of fans Oct. 1 at Vogelweh’s Kazabra Club during his recent USO tour. (Photos by Rick Scavetta, U.S. Army Garrison, Kaiserslautern)

American Idol winner Kris Allen recently completed a weeklong USO tour through Europe, entertaining and signing autographs for hundreds of fans along the way.  One special stop was at the USO Warrior Center, where USO staff and volunteers hosted a lunch for Allen and 25 wounded warriors.

The wounded warriors enjoyed great food and a post-meal acoustic set of some of Allen’s most popular songs.  One wounded warrior commented, “I watch American Idol every season, so it was pretty cool meeting the winner.” Check out and share this special shout out he taped there:

The tour took on special meaning for Allen, whose wife shares a special connection with the Kaiserslautern area.   “My wife lived in Ramstein. When she was a kid, her dad was in the Air Force,” Allen said to reporter Rick Scavetta, U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern.

When the USO recently asked Allen and his band to take on an overseas tour to play for service members and their families in Europe, he said it was a “no-brainer.”

“We were like, absolutely, we’ll do it,” Allen said. “It’s just an honor for us to come over here and hopefully offer some entertainment. These guys give a lot for our country and this is the least we can do.”

“You’re away from family and I know that’s really hard. So, I’d like to thank you so much for what you do,” Allen said. “Just keeping working hard, it means a lot to people in America.”

AFN Europe also caught him on camera.  Enjoy this interview  by TSgt Colleen Jones, as she takes us to this Idol’s show to support the troops…

Raheem DeVaughn Brings the Neo-Soul on his USO Tour in Europe

Celebrated R&B vocalist Raheem DeVaughn performs a USO show for troops and their families at Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany, September 19, 2010. Fresh off the Budweiser Superfest Tour with singers Anthony Hamilton, Jaheim, Hal Linton and Kem, DeVaughn is on a mission to bring a touch of home to service members and their families stationed in Europe. (USO photo by Jackie Zettles)

“Whether you have served in America’s armed forces personally, or have a friend or family member who has served – virtually everyone has been touched by the sacrifice of today’s troops, including myself.  I am honored to have participated in an entertainment tour to Europe as well as to have been part of the USO’s longest-running and most celebrated tradition.  Joining the likes of Sammy Davis, Jr. in boosting troop morale and bringing military families a touch of home has truly been a life-changing experience.” -Raheem DeVaughn

Maryland-based R&B vocalist Raheem DeVaughn recently wrapped up his first USO/Armed Forces Entertainment tour to Europe.  DeVaughn brought neo-soul to hundreds of U.S. troops and their families stationed in Germany, Belgium, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.

During his 8-day, 4-country tour, DeVaughn visited five military bases, including Royal Air Force Menwith Hill, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, Joint Force Command Brunssum, Spangdahlem Air Base and Ramstein Air Base.  The star also signed autographs, posed for photos and shared personal stories of life behind the mic, in addition to visiting hospital staff and wounded warriors.

DeVaughn is one of modern soul’s most beloved artists.  Known for such hits as “Guess Who Knows You More,” “Woman” and “Customer,” he has earned two Grammy nods and two BET J Awards for “Best Male R&B Artist” and “Album of the Year.”

We hope he enjoyed his first tour as much as the Troops and their families in the audience did!  Check out more pictures below…

R&B singer/songwriter Raheem DeVaughn poses for a photo with a group of airmen stationed at Spangdahlem Air Base, September 19, 2010. (USO photo by Jackie Zettles)

Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Raheem DeVaughn flashes a smile as he performs a USO concert for troops and their families stationed at Joint Forces Command Headquarters in Brunssum, The Netherlands, September 18, 2010. (USO photo by Jackie Zettles)

Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Raheem DeVaughn smiles for a photo with Army 2nd Lieutenant Aminat Lawal from Plano, Texas, during a USO visit to Landstuhl Regional Army Medical Center, September 20, 2010. (USO photo by Jackie Zettles)

A painting by Demont Pinder celebrates a USO tour performance by R&B singer/songwriter Raheem DeVaughn at Royal Air Force Base Menwith Hill in England, September 15, 2010. Pinder created the artwork while DeVaughn performed onstage, then digitally projected the image on to a big screen for the audience to enjoy. (USO photo by Jackie Zettles)

News & Notes From Around the World

Baghdad, Iraq – The USO in Baghdad sponsored a “235th Birthday for the Army Jag” 5K run.  For those of you familiar with the terrain, the runners started at Signal Hill on Camp Victory.  Over 450 people show up for this early morning weekend run. The USO had T-shirts for all the runners and plaques for the top 3 fastest male and female participants.  Congrats to all!

Runners stretched in preparation of a 5K run sponsored by the USO. (Photo by USO Baghdad)

Landstuhl, Germany - On July 30, 2010 the USO Warrior Center hosted an event with Heidelberg Sports and Fitness.  A group came down to cook out for the wounded warriors and give away some T-shirts designed especially for the event.  Menu choices included ribs, pork steak, hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, bratwurst, baked beans, potato salad, corn on the cob, vegetarian chili, watermelon, and garlic bread.  Yummy!

The event also fell on their Flashback Friday tradition, so a couple of older sports-themed movies were shown during the dinner, including “Bull Durham” and “Hoosiers.”  The turnout for the event was great, with 100 wounded warriors in attendance.  Nearly every wounded warrior echoed this warrior’s feelings, “this is the best food I have had in a long time.”

The wounded warriors were grateful to the Heidelberg crew for grilling for them and to the USO for hosting another successful event. (Photo by USO Warrior Center)

Basrah, Iraq - Texas Hold’em has quickly become a base favorite at USO Basrah. Every seat in the house was full once again as soldiers competed to make it to the final table. The addition of new trophies for the top card sharks had everyone playing their hands tight and bringing their best game face to the table.  Though not everyone walked away a champion, everyone had the chance to hone their skills and prepare…for next month’s tournament.  For more pictures, visit USO Basrah on Facebook by clicking here.

The poker tables were packed as Troops anted up for a tournament. (Photo by USO Basrah)

Papa Roach Breaks Away From European Tour to Perform Two USO Concerts!

Rock band Papa Roach extends their thanks to our nation's heroes and their families at the conclusion of their USO concert in Wiesbaden, Germany, July 27, 2010. (USO Photo by Jamie Goloyugo)

“The band is extremely happy to be back in Europe touring and is honored to break away from our European tour to visit troops and deliver a USO concert. We wouldn’t be able to do what we do everyday if it weren’t for our men and women in uniform and their families, who sacrifice a lot for us to live out our dreams.” – Papa Roach frontman Jacoby Shaddix

Papa Roach and Dear Superstar broke away from their European Tour last week to perform USO Concerts at Aviano Air Base and U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden.  Over 1,400 Airmen, Soldiers and military families enjoyed the USO/Armed Forces Entertainment concerts; the Germany performance was broadcast by AFN-Europe to 56 countries including the Middle East, the Balkans and Africa.

Currently the bands are continuing their tour throughout Europe, and are scheduled to perform 21 concerts between mid-July and Aug. 15 in 11 European countries.  Check out more photos below!

Papa Roach frontman Jacoby Shaddix gets front and center for troops at U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden, July 27, 2010. The band recently participated in their first USO tour, including a second concert for troops at Aviano Air Base in Italy. (USO Photo by Jaime Goloyugo)

On break from their European tour, Papa Roach hits the stage to performs for thousands of military families at U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden, Germany, July 27, 2010. USO Photo by Jaime Goloyugo

Papa Roach huddled up just before hitting the stage for their USO concert at U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden, Germany, July 27, 2010. (USO Photo by Jaime Goloyugo)

Rock band Papa Roach gives an interview on the importance of supporting troops and military families for AFN in Germany, July 27, 2010, just before their concert aired in over 50 countries worldwide. (USO Photo by Jaime Goloyugo)

Papa Roach, LIVE in Concert Today on AFN!

Jerry Horton, lead guitarist for Papa Roach, setting up his rig for tonight's concert - it's live on Freedom Channel starting at 8:00! (Photo from AFN-Europe's Facebook Page)

Multi-platinum, Grammy-nominated Papa Roach will air their USO/Armed Forces Entertainment concert at U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden in Germany LIVE tonight on AFN-Europe!  The band is taking a break from their current European tour to entertain Troops and their families; they also performed alongside rock n’ rollers Dear Superstar at Aviano Air Base in Italy earlier this week.

Tonight’s live broadcast be air on American Forces Network’s Freedom channel, and is scheduled to start some time after 8 p.m. CET, which will allow troops in Iraq and Afghanistan to watch the show, AFN officials said. Troops and Department of Defense civilians around the globe with AFN decoders should also be able to see the broadcast.

Check out our exclusive teaser below and let us know what you think of the show!

Lt. Dan Band Says “Ciao” to Naples

Gary Sinise and his 12-member band, the Lt. Dan Band, celebrated Independence Day with over 4,000 military families at an exclusive USO concert, sponsored by TriWest Health Care Alliance, at U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr in Germany, July 4, 2010. (U.S. Army Photo by Gertrud Zach/released)

You know him, you love him, and his band regaled Troops and families with their favorite songs over the 4th of July holiday.  Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band traveled through Germany and Italy for a special pair of concerts earlier this month, entertaining thousands of military families along the way.  Visit their website for the latest updates; they have public concerts coming up in Oshkosh, WI; Airway Heights, WA; and Staten Island, just to name a few.

And be sure to check out our photo essay from the stops in Germany – with USO’s very own CEO and President Sloan Gibson – and enjoy the videos below from Italy!