A Journey to Brotherhood

“Brotherhood is not defined by the bond of blood, but the common tint of the soul” – Frisco Cruise

I’ve watched enough war movies and sports themed dramas to realize that the bonds of brotherhood run deep, but growing up in a household of four women, I never had the opportunity to see those bonds forming in real life.  Well, that was until my recent trip to Kuwait and Germany as part of the weeklong Power 106 & Nick Cannon N’Credible All-Star USO Basketball Tour.

Ready to play some ball!

Ready to play some ball!

Think seven guys (platinum recording artist Baby Bash, Power 106 radio personalities Big Boy, DJ E-man and DJ Thirty Two, actors Arlen Escarpeta and NaNa as well as professional athlete Michael “AirDogg” Stewart) and me, the lone female, packed into one vehicle and you get the story of how I learned about brotherhood on a bus in Kuwait.

A team of 20, we were divided into two groups.  The first included multi-faceted entertainer Nick Cannon and artists from his N’Credible record label Kristinia DeBarge, boy band 4Count and hip-hop artists PWD, and we were the second group.  The objective of the trip, boost troop morale with some good-old fashioned team competition – basketball, anyone?

Our first stop was Camp Buehring in Kuwait.  Our mode of transportation, two 12-passenger vehicles.  Travel time, two hours.  As we headed toward our destination, I was unaware that I was undertaking a journey all my own.

The bus was alive with chatter.   From the Power 106 players recalling their “best of” moments on the court to USO tour veterans Baby Bash and Big Boy reliving their previous USO tour together, it seemed that every sentence began with “Remember that game…” or “Remember that time when…” followed by the laughter that can only come from shared memories.   And then there was me, quietly listening because it was clear that what was happening here was the same thing that could’ve been happening in locker rooms thousands of miles away, or here in Kuwait, in the middle of the dessert where the soldier next to you quickly becomes the brother who protects you – a brotherhood was forming.   And in what seemed like a blink of an eye, two hours had passed and we had arrived at our destination.

Screen Shot 2013-05-09 at 2.02.46 PMGame time and its standing room only on the outdoor basketball court. A sandstorm on the horizon and you could feel the energy and excitement from both teams.  Cheers and laughter erupted from the sidelines as Big Boy emceed the game, and if it weren’t for the glare of reflector belts, the camouflaged uniforms and the blast walls, I could have been watching any pick-up game at a neighborhood court.

Both teams played hard and it was the Power 106/N”Credible team who finished with top points.  At the end of the game, players from both teams met center court to shake hands, hug and extend their compliments for a game well played. These men and women had sweated together, competed with and against each other, laughed with each other and from what I could tell neither team walked away with winning or losing on their mind, it was the experience they were taking away with them.

As we loaded into our buses and I settled back into my seat of anonymity, the chatter began again but this time it wasn’t about past experiences.  It was about the day, the people they’d met, the servicemen and women they played against and how the experience had changed their lives.  It was clear that being able to say ‘thank you’ to our troops, to bring them a break from their day-to-day activities and to hear from our servicemen and women how much that meant to them, was something that would forever connect these men to our troops.

Screen Shot 2013-05-09 at 2.01.53 PMOften we think that something really big has to happen to have an impact on our lives, but sometimes it’s a combination of experiences that do the trick.  Being able to listen and watch as these men grew closer over their experience, combined with my own history with the military – hearing from troops how during deployments your fellow soldiers become your family –made me realize that there are brothers who we are born to love, and those whose bonds are forged in experience.  And those kinds of bonds don’t take a lifetime to make, sometimes the time it takes to play a basketball game or travel from one point to another is all you need.

We can’t all go to the places our troops are deployed to show our support, but there are ways that we as Americans can let them know that we are always by their side, and that we recognize the sacrifices they make to serve our country.  To find out how you can help visit us online at www.uso.org.   - Sharee Posey, USO Senior Communications Specialist 

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!

Chamillionaire Shares His Experience

Chamillionaire performs at Fort Hood Community StrongGrammy Award winning rapper and singer Chamillionaire was one of many celebrity entertainment performers at Fort Hood on Friday, December 11.  He penned the following article for MTV News:

“I feel so privileged to have received an invitation to perform in Killeen, Texas for the Fort Hood Community Strong event for all the soldiers and their families. It’s not every day that we get a chance to give back to the people who put their lives on the line to defend our country daily. Me and my party of four received a warm greeting from a group of USO soldiers who were waiting to pick us up from the airport when we arrived in Killeen. They took pictures and told us numerous times how appreciative they were that I would be a part of the event. While we were in the van en route to the hotel to drop off our bags, they told us some of their daily duties and Iraq stories. One of the soldiers told us he had to carry 180 pounds of baggage and weapons in what seemed like 150 degree Iraq weather, and he also told us stories about spiders that they saw that chased people and attacked birds. From the moment we met the soldiers they were very open with us and it seemed like they like the loved to share their war stories with tourists…”

Read the entire article at MTV News.

AND be sure to check out Cham’s article at XXLmag.com, too!