By Staff Sgt. Joshua S. Higgins
Regimental Combat Team 1
CAMP RAMADI, Iraq - Country music songwriter and singer Aaron Tippin visited Camp Ramadi, Iraq, during a tour throughout the country, Nov. 26.
Tippin, a long-time supporter of the military, signed autographs and performed a variety of songs as part of his annual visit with deployed service members.
After scoring his first contract with RCA Records in 1990, Tippin's first tour landed him in Saudi Arabia during the Persian Gulf War. He credits the launch of his career to military men and women who stuck by him after the tour.
"Some folks may not know this but my career was kind of kicked off by the military," said Tippin. "Before I ever did a single show in America, the first Americans to ever hear me sing "You've Got to Stand for Something" were in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; they were our troops. It's a friendship that's lasted 20 years."
Before the show, Tippin met and ate dinner with several service members at the camp's dining facility.
Sgt. Bradford M. Owen, an intelligence analyst from Murfreesboro, Tenn., with Regimental Combat Team 1, attended the dinner and spoke with Tippin about the on goings in his hometown area.
"Aaron resides just one county over in Liberty, Tenn., only 20 minutes from where I grew up," said Owen. "It felt good to talk to someone, especially a well-known performer, about what's going on back home. I appreciate him coming out around the holidays to put on a show for us."
Tippin and his band performed over an hour during the concert, playing several of his hits including "My Blue Angel," "Drill Here, Drill Now," and crowd favorite "Where the Stars and Stripes and the Eagles Fly."
Afterward, service members lined up for autographs and photos with the band. "Shaking hands with [service members] is a big blessing," Tippin said.
Another aspect of the tours Tippin enjoys is seeing the progress Coalition forces are making in war-torn communities. He said too often main stream media paint a bad picture of what goes on in Iraq, and he enjoys working to counter any negativity that might lie in the hearts and minds of both U.S. citizens and service members.
"Not everybody in America has the opportunity that I have to come over here on the battle field and see what you guys have done, and to see what you have done for Iraqi people," he said. "That's what I like to do; I like to do what I call bringing the love over and hauling the truth back. It's a blessing to be the messenger boy."
In 2002 Tippin visited troops in Afghanistan and has since made annual visits to Iraq. He is the celebrity spokesperson for the Paralyzed Veterans of America, the Armed Services YMCA and the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve's Toys for Tots program.