The USO <3s Paul Wall

Paul Wall performs during his 2009 USO Tour at the Boardwalk at Kandahar Air Base, Afghanistan.

When asked to think of USO entertainers, many people imagine Bob Hope or, more recently, country music superstars such as Toby Keith. Grammy-nominated rapper Paul Wall may be less expected, but, having recently come back from his 5th USO tour to the Middle East, is definitely one of the biggest supporters of the USO and our nation’s troops!

How did you get started touring with the USO?

There was a guy in Texas, his name is Mattress Mack and he owns a huge furniture store in Houston and he did a lot of events and stuff for the USO and he suggested I go out on a tour. And then my good friend Jamie Kennedy and I went out on a USO variety type show. He did stand-up and I performed for troops. It was a great experience and I really appreciated the opportunity to perform for troops.

What was your most memorable experience over the years?

The thing that sticks out the most is one time in Afghanistan, there was so much activity in the air terminals and we ended up getting stuck there. Our USO tour manager stayed up all night trying to arrange a way for us to get out, if he hadn’t done that we may have been stuck there for more than just a day. The whole time I was thinking about my family and getting home to them and I knew that this was nothing compared to what the troops must feel. I was only away from my family for a week but these guys are gone for months and a year at a time, I could only imagine how long an extra day might feel to them, if they were trying to get home and something like this happened. It just made me appreciate them even more for all of their hard work and sacrifice.

Hip-hop artist Paul Wall brings members from the 380th Expeditionary Wing on stage during his USO concert on Jan. 18.

How have things changed since your first USO tour?

With the drawdown in Iraq this time I had the chance to visit different areas of the Middle East. We Went to Kuwait, Djibouti and an undisclosed location in the Middle East. I almost experienced kind of a role reversal in Djibouti because many of the troops there had never been to Iraq or Afghanistan and they were asking me questions about what it was like over there. It really just made me realize how versatile our troops are and even though they may not be serving in theater they are still sacrificing time with their family, friends and loved ones and that they care about their fellow troops who are on the frontlines.

If you could say one thing to the men and women serving this country what would it be?

Thank you and I’ll see you when you get back or on my next USO tour!

Wall, whose latest album “Politics as Usual” was released last year, says, “My family is the most important thing to me and being apart from them, for any amount of time, is always hard. I can’t imagine how it must be for our troops. Most of them haven’t seen their family in months, that’s why I make it a point to go on tour with the USO whenever I can. Our troops need to know that we appreciate them.”

See images from his recent tour full of meeting the troops and five performances at USO.org.

Paul Wall Keep It Real on His Fourth USO Tour

Paul Wall poses with pilots of a C-130 aircraft at Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan, during his 2009 tour through the Persian Gulf. (USO photo by Erick Anderson)

“It’s an honor for me to visit our troops and to volunteer with the USO.  As an artist I feel like it’s my duty to give back to our soldiers at war and to let them know I appreciate their sacrifice.  I’m also excited to perform music from my new album for them.” – Paul Wall

Grammy nominated rapper Paul Wall recently set out to visit troops serving in the Persian Gulf on his fourth USO/Armed Forces Entertainment tour. Accompanying “The People’s Champ” in boosting troop morale were Power 106 radio personality Big Boy and DJ E-man.  The trio performed seven shows at three bases, signed autographs and spent some one-on-one time with troops.

Wall has participated in three USO tours since 2007, performing for over 10,400 service men and women stationed in Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan.   Big Boy and DJ E-man participated in their first USO tour in 2008, when the duo traveled to Kuwait and Iraq with Latin rapper Baby Bash, performing for more than 5,000 troops.

Didn’t catch the tour this time?  Pick up Wall’s fourth studio album, “Heart of a Champion,” which features collaborations with USO tour veteran Chamillionaire and a host of other diverse artists.

Big Boy had this to say about the trip: “I’ve been looking forward to doing another USO tour and to be able to have this experience with artists that share my enthusiasm for these great men and women makes it even more memorable.” DJ E-man echoed those sentiments:  “I can’t describe how humbling it is to hit the stage and perform for some of our nation’s bravest and finest heroes.  My first USO tour was a life-changing experience and this one was no different.”

Check out some concert footage below as Wall performs for Troops at Joint Base Balad, Iraq!

OZONE Magazine Tagged Along with Paul Wall and DJ Smallz on their Latest USO Tour

Ozone Magazine Editor Julia Beverly traveled with Paul Wall and DJ Smallz on their recent tour through Kuwait and Afghanistan.  The trip was nothing short of transformative.  “Writing this piece was a challenge because the trip was such an overwhelmingly new experience,” Julia told the USO.  “I hope I did it justice.”

SOLDIERS OF LOVE
This article appears in the newest issue of OZONE Mag.

Paul Wall and DJ Smallz accepted their mission with pride: boost morale amongst American troops deployed in Afghanistan. OZONE tagged along for an unforgettable ride through the war-weary Middle East.

Paul Wall and DJ Smallz give a radio interview at the AFN station at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan. (USO Photo Erick Anderson)

Wait.

Where am I?

Seven days in, the thought finally hits me. This is crazy. How did I end up here? I’m weighted down by military-issue body armor, hovering several thousand feet above ground in decidedly unfriendly skies. Mere inches from my left shoulder, a gaping hole where the door should be (photo at left) allows a bird’s eye view of the dry desert and the scenic mountainside of Afghanistan quickly falling away beneath the chopper.

A handful of us are on board the helicopter, including Houston rapper Paul Wall and Florida representative DJ Smallz, but I appear to be the only one suddenly smitten with panic. A four-pronged seatbelt strapped over my bulletproof vest seems to be the only thing separating me from sudden death-by-gravity, as I cling tightly to my cameras and gear with both hands. And a tall, heavily-armed soldier named John Tuerck, strapped in facing me and intently eyeing the ground through the scope of his assault rifle, appears to be the only thing separating me from mid-air death-by-Taliban.

Click here to read the full article from OZONE Magazine!

The USO in Afghanistan

The USO has and will continue to provide a touch of home to our Troops deployed in Afghanistan.  Here’s a quick recap of some of our most memorable moments there over the past few years!