Stephen Colbert Salutes the Troops…Again

Actor/comedian Stephen Colbert (center) of Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report" performs for U.S. military personnel at Al Faw Palace in Baghdad, Sunday, June 7, 2009. (USO Photo by Steve Manuel)

We hope you enjoyed yesterday’s clip from The Colbert Report‘s special “Been There: Won That: The Returnification of the American-Do Troopscape.” (Yes, that’s the actual title!)

Last night the special included an interview with Brent Cummings and Josh Bleill, two injured veterans who “appreciate the support they’ve received from the American public after their tours in Iraq.”  Check out the fun interview below and be sure to scroll down to see John Legend’s special performance of “Coming Home,” dedicated to the veterans in the audience…

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This Week’s Snag Film: Inside Shock and Awe

This week’s FREE documentary from Snag Films looks back at the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and serves as a prescient reminder of the service and sacrifice of our military as we welcome home the combat Troops who served.

For the first time, get a detailed inside look at what happened during the Shock and Awe bombing campaign that launched Operation Iraqi Freedom. Using spectacular exclusive imagery, CGI and powerful survivor interviews, National Geographic investigates the planning, execution and outcome of the most intense bombardment in history—putting it into the context of history’s most dramatic bombardments and providing an inside look at what was going on in Baghdad at the time.

Get an insider’s view of the technology that allows overwhelming firepower to be accurately targeted and learn how exotic missiles, like the thermo baric ‘’bunker busters’’ work. And explore the latest weaponry that may change the future of warfare. Includes Special Bonus Program: Warship.

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Coaches USO tour: Day 2

Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid (facing camera l) and Carolina Panthers head coach John Fox (facing camera, r) sign autographs for soldiers during a USO/Armed Forces Entertainment tour stop at Baumholder Army Garrison in Germany July 1, 2010. The coaches, along with Minnesota Vikings head coach Brad Childress and Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis (not pictured) are on their first overseas USO tour visiting troops in Germany and the Persian Gulf over the course of a week. (USO Photo Fred Greaves)

Earlier this summer, four NFL coaches traveled to Germany and the Persian Gulf to spend times with troops as part of a week-long USO/Armed Forces Entertainment tour.  Included on the tour were 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 Fox recently told a Carolina Panthers reporter about the impact the tour had on him: “It was inspiring. They’re amazing, everybody over there from the leadership to the troops. The sacrifice and commitment they make is probably second to none. It was a neat experience.”

Click here to check in as these former and current NFL coaches meeting and greeting troops in Iraq, courtesy of!

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)

USO Basra is Making a Difference

On their Facebook page today, USO Basra is celebrating their volunteers with “Thank You’s” and a treat at the front desk.  In that spirit of gratitude, we want to extend a special thanks to those volunteers and everyone else at COB Basra for pulling together in the wake of a building fire – cause by a rocket launch – that resulted in destruction of property, but thankfully no serious injuries.

Fifteen occupants lost all of their possessions in the fire, but – as Maj. Michael Cobb, the executive officer for Division Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 1st Infantry Division, told Staff Sgt. Nathaniel Smith, 1st Inf. Div., USD-S PAO for Blackanthem News – people and organizations from across the base quickly mobilized to meet the needs of the displaced individuals.

The door of USO Basra is always open, 20 hours a day, 7 days a week. Come on in!

The USO immediately stepped up, providing whatever they could from the PX to augment the items that were destroyed.

“I’m hoping that by me taking care of that little nuisance for them then it will take that little burden off,” Valerie Burnham, the Center Manager for Basra, told Staff Sgt. Smith.  Burnham, a 24-year veteran who retired from the U.S. Navy last year, said her own service ingrained in her a sense of responsibility to help others.

“You see people in trouble, you want to do something about it,” she said. “It’s my human nature now, after being in the military for so long.”

Thank you, Valerie, and all of your staff and volunteers, and to everyone else at COB Basra who turned a tough situation into something that shows the best of the human spirit.  Stay safe, and we’ll see you back home soon…

USO Sponsors 1st Bodybuilding Competition in Basra

The USO at Basra is open for business 20 hours/7 days each week from 1000 until 0600 and features a wide array of USO amenities, including flat-screen TVs, phones, computers, and gaming equipment.

The last month and a half has been more mentally and physically demanding than the entire rest of the deployment for a group of men and women here on COB Basra. In contending in the first bodybuilding competition on base, the group followed a strict diet and training regimen to get in top physical shape in time for the show.

The driving force behind the event was Sgt. Mark Kring of the 206th Military Police Company. As the 2002 Mr. New York State Bodybuilding Champion, he knows the ins and outs of preparing for a competition. However, in a standard event, you aren’t faced with the additional daily requirements of being a soldier in a war zone. What was already an intense undertaking truly pushed these men and women to the outer limits of what they thought they were capable of, learning a lot about what they can really achieve with hard work and dedication in the process.

The USO co-sponsored the event, which also included many generous donations from the professional weight lifting field, and with a turn-out rivaling that of our biggest USO shows, it was a huge success.

Check out the following video for a behind the scenes look at the event!

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