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Winnefeld, USO Tour Stars Visit Troops in Afghanistan

By Lisa Ferdinando
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, March 6, 2015 – Service members assigned here enjoyed a brief reprieve from their Resolute Support mission today, thanks to the USO and a group of celebrities who wanted to say, “Thank you for your service.”

Navy Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr., the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, led the delegation of USO tour stars as part of a global trip to entertain the troops and show gratitude for their service and sacrifice.

"I want to thank you all for your service," Winnefeld said, kicking off the show that featured celebrities including Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck, funnyman Jason "Wee Man" Acuna, Miss America 2015 Kira Kazantsev, and American Idol season 11 winner Phillip Phillips.

"Everybody who comes back raves about the job that you're doing," Winnefeld told the service members gathered in a hangar for the event. "We're going to finish this job."

The U.S. service members in Afghanistan serve in a train, advise and assist role and conduct counter-terrorism missions as Afghan forces take responsibility for their country’s security.

Home Away From Home

"The USO, who's here today, has been serving and supporting [service members and their] families for over 75 years," said Winnefeld's wife, Mary, who accompanied her military husband to Afghanistan.

"We're excited to extend that tradition of USO tours today," the admiral told troops.

Drawing cheers from the crowd, the show in Bagram today featured Luck throwing long passes through the hangar; singing performances by American Idol contestants Diana DeGarmo and her husband Ace Young; and actor Dennis Haysbert expressing gratitude for the service of the American military.

It was nice to see the celebrities who came so far to support the troops, said Army Spc. Gage McGuyer of Texas, who's been in Afghanistan for five months.

"It was really cool. I got to see Phillip Phillips. I've never seen him before," he said. "It makes me feel like I want to go home a lot more."

Georgia native Army Spc. Gregory Crump, who’s also been in Afghanistan for five months, said he appreciates the support from the American public.

"It makes me feel really good about the job that I am doing, and gives me something more to fight for," he said.

Crump added, "It was really nice seeing the football players. I loved it all."

Winnefeld and the traveling USO troupe have already visited Germany, Italy, the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson in the North Arabian Gulf, Naval Support Activity Bahrain and the amphibious ship USS New York pierside in Bahrain.

Contact Author

Biographies:
Navy Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr.

Related Sites:
Special Report: Travels With Winnefeld
USO – United Service Organizations
Resolute Support

Related Articles:
Winnefeld’s USO Tour Boosts Morale of Troops in Middle East



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