GUANTANAMO BAY, CUBA
By Megan Burnham
Joint Task Force Guantanamo Public Affairs
GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba – Some people may know him as Will Tippin, the best friend to Sydney Bristow on the TV show "Alias." Others may know him as the villainous boyfriend in "Wedding Crashers." However, when he visited the U.S. Naval Station in Guantanamo Bay May 2-4, he introduced himself with his real name and identity: Bradley Cooper.
Cooper, a Philadelphia native, currently resides in Venice, Calif. where he works and owns a little house with a couple of dogs. He moved from New York to Los Angeles, in 2001 to take the job for the Alias series.
Due to positive feedback from friends who went on tour in Afghanistan six months ago, Cooper requested to participate in a similar tour with the United Services Organization, an association that helps the American public show support to service members. The actor had some free time and when USO asked if he wanted to go to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, he jumped at the chance. This was his first visit to a U.S. Naval Station; in fact, this was his first visit to any military base.
"I'm here to show my support, say hello and learn more about the military and what they're doing, especially here in Guantanamo Bay," said Cooper.
The event, sponsored by the USO and Morale Welfare and Recreation, provided troopers (especially Bradley Cooper fans) the opportunity to meet with the star, take photos with him as well as acquire signed photographs.
Traveling with the celebrity was his buddy Dave Bugliari, USO Entertainment producer Tracy Thede, and Liberty Coordinator Jeffrey Shaw.
The "Handshake Tour" consisted of three busy days around the base, including a visit to Camp Delta, Camp 6, the Northeast Gate and Water Gate, and the Port Security Unit, as well as recreational activities.
"I am absolutely blown away; it's very educational," said Cooper. "Going into the camps definitely took it out of the TV and put it into real life."
Troopers and civilians attended scheduled site visits at the Marine Hill Liberty Center, the Navy Exchange Atrium, and the Deer Point Liberty Center to meet the actor.
"It's cool that he's taking the time out of his day to come down here," remarked Andrew Kolbek at the NEX visit. "It shows that he cares what we are doing and why we're doing it."
"He is setting the morale for the whole base," added Micah Howard, also in attendance. "It's a good thing he's doing – we really appreciate it."
The meet-and-greet event ran smoothly largely due to Thede's efforts, as well as Craig Basel and Jeffrey Shaw from MWR.
"The MWR folks, they're phenomenal," Thede said about Basel and Shaw. "They go above and beyond to make sure that as many creature comforts as possible are here for the service members."
Before Cooper left the island, he shared some parting words to everyone he came in contact with this past weekend.
"Thank you all so much for how generous you've been with your gratitude, and being able to talk to us," he said. "We're so happy to support you, and I hope that you all feel that from us and that anything we can do, we're willing to do it."
Prior to visiting Guantanamo Bay, Cooper was busy starring in movies with some other well-known entertainers. His upcoming comedies and romantic comedies include "Yes Man" with Jim Carrey, out in December, "He's Just Not That Into You" with Ben Affleck, Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Connelly, Drew Barrymore and Scarlett Johansson; and "All About Steve" with Sandra Bullock and Thomas Aiden Church, out next year. The performer will also be starring in a thriller with Renée Zellweger called "Case 39," scheduled to hit the big screen sometime in 2009.
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This work, Bradley Cooper Comes to Gitmo, by SSG Megan Leuck, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.