On Monday, nine famous men – four in heavy makeup – said they’re taking their guitars on the road to support the troops.
Paul Stanley of KISS talks to troops in Virginia Beach, Va., in 2010. Photo courtesy of the Navy
Kiss and Def Leppard announced their Heroes Tour during a press event at the House of Blues in Los Angeles. The tour – which starts June 23 in Utah – will cover more than 40 dates coast-to-coast. A dollar from each ticket sold will be split among multiple military support organizations, including the USO.
Troops who want to check out the show should visit kissonline.com/heroes for discount details.
KISS – which will be inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame next month – is no stranger to supporting the military. In 2011, the USO’s Joseph Andrew Lee talked to guitarist Paul Stanley about the band’s support for wounded warriors.
Back in Black … er, camo. Comedian Lewis Black gets ready to fly to another forward operating base during a 2008 USO entertainment tour. USO photo by Dave Gatley
Spring is fast approaching. That also means USO entertainment tours are gearing up across the world.
A trio of NFL stars just visited bases in the Middle East. The Band Perry is slated to preform for troops Monday in England at and the Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families is set to launch another year of touring on April 4.
Earlier this week, Politico highlighted two comedians – Roy Wood Jr. and Lewis Black – who’ve taken the USO stage to bring laughs to troops.
“You’re not getting the same kind of sense of self-worth when you get off the stage in Iowa on a Thursday night as you did entertaining a bunch of men and women who just want a slice of home,” Wood said.
Wood – a regular on TBS’ “Sullivan & Son” - wrapped a USO tour to Guam and the Philippines earlier this month.
The Politico story also quoted Black. The legendary stand-up comedian and frequent contributor to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart has been on three USO tours.
“You go to perform for the troops it’s what it must have been like performing at Woodstock,” Black said. “It’s extraordinary. … The amount of energy that you get on the stage is like nothing — I don’t know what else to compare it to. It’s like an adrenaline rush. They’re so thrilled that you are there. .. It was one of the most extraordinary times in my life.”
You can read the full Politico story on USO tours here.
It’s football season downrange.
While the official NFL season ended last month, a trio of professional football players are continuing the tradition of traveling to the Middle East for an offseason USO entertainment tour. New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham, Washington Redskins receiver Pierre Garcon and Miami Dolphins punter Brandon Fields are currently meeting, playing catch with, and even getting carried around by (see the slideshow above) U.S. troops downrange.
“This experience for me has truly been life-changing,” said Graham, who caught an NFL-best 16 touchdowns last season. “The personal connection I’ve been able to make is something that will be with me forever. I grew up in a military home and this just makes me more of a patriot. I have more of an appreciation for the little things we have back home each and every day.”
The center of attention at this year’s Super Bowl was the center of attention for deployed troops just one year ago. Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning – who set NFL records for passing yards (5,477) and touchdowns (55) this season – will take on the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday night. Manning went on a USO Tour hosted by Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. James Winnefeld Jr., last February.
Manning kept a journal of his experience for ESPN, which featured this passage:
[I] experienced a true first in my life. I have thrown footballs in lots and lots of places. Boats, prisons, schools, military bases, hospitals, golf course fairways, malls, birthday parties, bar mitzvahs, Mardi Gras floats, French Quarter, etc., but I ain’t never thrown a football in an airplane. And I am not talking about little 3-yard lob passes. I was throwing 35-yard bullets to a guy who had the best hands on the entire USO tour, Senior Airman Stephen Gasperic. He was catching passes while trying to avoid falling over luggage, probably a couple of missiles back there as well for all I knew. He fell over a couple of times on some high throws, but he never dropped one. …
Manning will have a few USO tour veterans on the sidelines with him Sunday night, too.
Broncos starting cornerback Champ Bailey went on a USO tour last spring along with former Pro Bowl linebacker Von Miller. Miller tore his anterior cruciate ligament in December and won’t be able to play in Sunday’s game.
And the Broncos coach is a USO tour vet, too. John Fox went on a USO tour in 2010, back when he was the head coach of the Carolina Panthers.
Beloved celebrity weatherman Al Roker announced Tuesday morning that he’ll go on a USO Tour in 2014 as part NBC’s Today Show’s Shine A Light series.
The NBC series is a year-long initiative by the show focusing on service and giving back to communities in need.
From the Today.com:
Al’s goal is to join a USO tour, helping to bring a little bit of America to our troops stationed all around the world.
“A few years ago I went to Afghanistan … You see it on TV, but nothing can prepare you for what these men and women are dealing with,” Al said. “We still have a lot of American troops in harm’s way, and I want them to know that they’re remembered.”
Dates and locations for Roker’s tour are still to be determined.
Roker officially joined the Today Show in 1996 and also hosts Waking Up With Al on The Weather Channel.
Last month, NBC highlighted the USO Christmas Convoy, which hit 50 remote locations in Southwest Asia to bring cheer and gifts to American troops who couldn’t make it home for the holidays to be with their families.
Multi-platinum hard rockers Drowning Pool are no strangers to life on the road. Having just concluded their summer tour and announcing their upcoming tour dates in Russia, one might think the band would be taking a much-needed break. Instead, they are busy showing their support for troops and military families as part of their second USO tour this year.
The band is traveling more than 1,300 miles over seven days to put on three USO concerts for troops and families. Having already hit Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. and F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., they’ll wrap their tour up tonight with a show at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont.
–Story by Sharee Posey, USO Senior Communications