Twilight Star Michael Welch Dazzled Military Teens on First USO Education Tour

Twilight actor Michael Welch addresses a group of schoolchildren at the Kapaun School Age Program at Kaiserslautern, Germany on July 9, 2010. (USO photo by Jaime M. Goloyugo)

“Traveling with the USO and meeting military families has been a new experience for me, and one that I will never forget. Hearing firsthand what it’s like to have a loved one deployed is humbling and it makes me realize how much military families sacrifice, and how grateful I am for their service.” – Michael Welch

Twilight star Michael Welch recently completed his first USO education tour to Germany.   During his six-day adventure, Welch visited 10 teen and youth centers, signed autographs, posed for photos and participated in acting workshops.  In addition to visiting with over 600 military kids and teens, the young star made a trip to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, where he met with wounded warriors, as well as children recovering in the hospital’s pediatric ward.

As part of his USO tour, the 86th Services Squadron hosted an online contest and two lucky young winners were treated to dinner with Welch.  Best known for his role as ‘Mike Newton’ in Twilight and most recently seen in the newly released Eclipse, Welch has also made appearances on hit TV series such as “CSI: Miami,” “Numb3rs” and “Law & Order: SVU.”  Check out our photo essay below!

Michael Welch signs autographs for a group of teenage fans at the Landstuhl Teen Center, July 9, 2010. (USO photo by Jaime M. Goloyugo)

Several Troops snagged autographs for their military teens and kids when Michael Walsh stopped by the Landstuhl Teen Center on July 9, 2010. (USO photo by Jaime M. Goloyugo)

Welch poses with staff at the Landstuhl Teen Center, July 9, 2010. (USO photo by Jaime M. Goloyugo)

Welch spent over an hour taking questions and then posed for a group shot with students and staff at the Landstuhl School Age Program, July 9, 2010. (USO photo by Jaime M. Goloyugo)

Welch entertains a variety of questions from a group of youth ages 6-12 at the Landstuhl School Age Program on July 9, 2010. (USO photo by jaime M. Goloyugo)

Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band Rock the Fourth with a USO Concert in Germany!

Gary Sinise and The Lt. Dan Band hit the stage to celebrate troops and their families at USAG Grafenwoher, Germany, July 4, 2010. (USO Photo by Jaimie Goloyugo)

“I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Independence Day than being with the men and women of our armed forces. The band and I are always happy to hit the road with the USO.  We love performing for troops, because their sacrifices make it possible for the rest of us to live our lives.  They deserve so much more, and this is just one way for us to let them know we appreciate what they do.” – Gary Sinise

Emmy Award-winning actor 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.  Over the past seven years, Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band have entertained nearly 150,000 troops and military families in the U.S., Japan, South Korea and Afghanistan.

On Saturday, July 10, Sinise and band will travel to Italy to put on another USO show, also sponsored by TriWest, for troops and military families serving at NSA Naples.  Can’t make it to Italy?  Then check out the Jonathan Flora documentary “Lt. Dan Band: For the Common Good,” which chronicled the band’s journey around the globe in support of U.S. troops.  It’s almost like being on the front row.

As always, we love having Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band on tour in support of our Troops.  If you were there, let us know what you thought of the concert!  And be sure to check out more pictures below…

More than 4,000 military families gathered at USAG Grafenwoehr, Germany to celebrate Independence Day with a USO concert featuring Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band, July 4, 2010. (USO Photo by Jamie Goloyugo)

Gary Sinise and his bandmates get up close and personal with Troops and their families at USAG Grafenwoher for their USO concert celebrating Independence Day. (USO Photo by Jamie Goloyugo)

USO President and CEO Sloan Gibson accompanied Sinise and bandmates to Germany, and also took time out to visit with Troops along the way. (USO photo by Jamie Goloyugo)

Vocalist Jeff Vezain (l) and Gary Sinise lead the band in a crowd favorite. Sinise formed The Lt. Dan Band with Chicago composer/Vietnam veteran Kimo Williams (not shown) in 2003, and they continue to perform 30 to 40 shows annually. (USO Photo by Jamie Goloyugo)

NFL Coaches Touch Down on a USO Tour to Europe and the Persian Gulf

Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis (back row L), Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid (back row 2nd l) , Minnesota Vikings head coach Brad Childress (3rd r) and Carolina Panthers head coach John Fox (r) pose for a photo with medical staff during a USO tour stop at Landsthul Regional Medical Center in Germany on June 29, 2010. (USO Photo by Fred Greaves)

For the second consecutive year, the NFL deployed four of its most sought-after coaches to Germany and the Persian Gulf to visit troops as part of a week-long USO/Armed Forces Entertainment tour.  Making the journey overseas are Minnesota Vikings head coach Brad Childress, Carolina Panthers head coach John Fox, Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, and Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid.

Coach Childress had this to say about the experience: “Since my son has enlisted in the Marine Corps I have learned a new appreciation for the freedoms we all enjoy and take for granted.  Our armed forces are the most highly skilled, best-trained men and women in the world. Their character is on display on a daily basis because they’re an all-volunteer force. We all owe them a debt of gratitude and this trip is a small way of saying thank you.”

Check out our photo essay and get the latest on the tour from the Bengals blog!

Two soldiers brief Carolina Panthers head coach John Fox (standing 2nd l), Minnesota Vikings head coach Brad Childress (standing 2nd r) and Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis (bottom in tank hatch) about the M1 Abrahms tank during a USO tour stop at Baumholder Army Garrison in Germany July 1, 2010. (USO Photo by Fred Greaves)

Carolina Panthers head coach John Fox visits with MP's at Kaiserslautern Air Base in Germany during a USO/Armed Forces Entertainment tour stop on June 30, 2010. (USO Photo Fred Greaves)

Minnesota Vikings head coach Brad Childress gets some help after trading hats with TSgt Tamala Williams, a cook at a dining facility at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, during a USO tour stop on June 30, 2010. (USO Photo by Fred Greaves)

Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis (2nd r) talks with airmen at the 435th Air Mobility Squadron at Ramstein Air Base in Germany on June 30, 2010. (USO Photo by Fred Greaves)

(r-l) Minnesota Vikings head coach Brad Childress, Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid and Carolina Panthers head coach John Fox sign autographs and visit with troops and their families at the USO center in the Ramstein Passenger Terminal at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, June 29, 2010. (USO Photo by Fred Greaves)

Check Out the Video from the 2010 Coaches Tour

(L to R) 2nd Lt. Nick Mercurio, Iowa Graduate Assistant Charlie Bullen, Gunnery Sergeant Will Cuellar, Harvard University head Football Coach Tim Murphy, and wounded warrior Ryan Kules of the Wounded Warrior Project take time out to pose for a group photo during the 2010 USO/Morale Entertainment Coaches Tour. (Morale Entertainment photo by Blake Belcher)

As you no doubt read on the blog last week, the USO/Morale Entertainment 2010 Coaches Tour spent nine days in Germany and Southwest Asia spending time with Troops.  West Point head coach Rich Ellerson, University of Oregon head coach Chip Kelly, Harvard University head coach Tim Murphy, and University of Illinois head coach Ron Zook were each on their first USO tour, and they made this videos along the way.  Enjoy!

The Whigs Invade Europe on USO Tour

 

The Whigs (L-R) Tim Deaux, Julian Dorio and Parker Gisbert perform for troops at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, on the band's first-ever USO tour, May 22, 2010. (USO Photo by Jamie Goloyugo)

 

Athens, GA-based rock band The Whigs are currently traveling through Germany and the UK on their first USO tour.  journey abroad to Europe and rock out with military families as part of a nine-day USO/Armed Forces Entertainment tour.  The tour kicked off last week and the trio has performed five hi-octane USO/Armed Forces Entertainment tour concerts for troops and their families.

Locations visited include USAG Grafenwoeher, USAG Hohenfels, Spangdahlem Air Base, Ramstein Air Base and RAF Alconbur.  The Whigs have also visited the USO Warrior Center at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.  During their visit, the band will also sign autographs, pose for photos and tour multiple military posts.  Check out some fresh photos!

 

The Whigs singer/songwriter Parker Gisbert performs for troops at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, May 22, 2010. The rock band recently set out on their first-ever USO tour, entertaining troops serving in the UK and Germany. (USO Photo by Jamie Goloyugo)

 

 

Rock band The Whigs (L-R) Tim Deaux, Parker Gispert and Julian Dorio (far right) pose with troops at Ramstein Air Base, May 22, 2010. (USO Photo by Jamie Goloyugo)

 

 

Rock band The Whigs (L-R) Tim Deaux, Julian Dorio and Parker Gisbert (far left), pose with the stage crew, before performing for troops at Ramstein Air Base, May 22, 2010. (USO Photo by Jamie Goloyugo)

 

Ground-Breaking Project Theater of War Travels to Germany

Jeffrey Wright recites the words of Ajax as David Strathairn and Gloria Reuben look on. Theater of War presented a reading of the play in New York City, November 2009. (Photo by Paxton Winters)

Since 2008, Theater of War has presented readings of Sophocles’ Ajax and Philoctetes to military communities across the United States. These ancient plays timelessly and universally depict the psychological and physical wounds inflicted upon warriors by war. By presenting these plays to military audiences, our hope is to de-stigmatize psychological injury and open a safe space for dialogue about the challenges faced by service members, veterans, and their caregivers and families, as well as their resiliency.

It has been suggested that ancient Greek drama was a form of storytelling, communal therapy, and ritual reintegration for combat veterans by combat veterans. Sophocles himself was a general. The audiences for whom these plays were performed were undoubtedly comprised of citizen-soldiers and the performers themselves were most likely veterans or cadets. Seen through this lens, ancient Greek drama appears to have become elaborate ritual aimed at helping combat veterans return to civilian life after deployments during a century that saw 80 years of war.

Plays like Sophocles’ Ajax and Philoctetes read like textbook descriptions of wounded warriors, struggling under the weight of psychological and physical injuries to maintain their dignity, identity, and honor. Given this context, it seemed natural that military audiences today might have something to teach us about the impulses behind these ancient stories. It also seemed like these ancient stories would have something important and relevant to say to military audiences.

Over the past year, we have enjoyed the privilege of performing for the U.S. Marine Corps, West Point cadets, homeless veterans, Army Posts, and the Department of Defense. Each reading has been followed by a town hall style audience discussion, which has been facilitated with the help of military community members. These have been arresting, emotionally-charged events, in which service members have spoken openly about their experiences in combat and at home.

Theater of War is currently touring in Germany through May 25th, where our USO Family Centers have supported our performances:
25 MAY 10; (Tuesday) 0900 AND 1630 HRS; GRAFENWOEHR, Grafenwoehr Field House, Bldg. 354

26 MAY10; (Wednesday) 0900 AND 1630 HRS; HOHENFELS, Post Theater, Bldg. 3

Theater of War also returns Stateside in June, at the following locations:
June 8 and 9, 2010 – Fort Leonard Wood, MO

June 24, 2010 – Army War College, PA

June 29 and 30, 2010 – Naval Special Warfare, Little Creek, VA

For updated information about the project, including performance times for the locations listed above, please visit our website: www.theater-of-war.com

The opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of Theater of War and do not necessarily reflect those of the USO.  You can also follow Theater of War on Facebook and Twitter!