News: USO tour celebrities visit FOB Shank Soldiers
By U.S. Army Spc. Brian P. Glass
LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Celebrities traveling throughout Afghanistan on a USO tour stopped at Forward Operating Base Shank to meet and entertain and troops for the holiday season, Dec. 21.
Country music star Buddy Jewell from Nashville, Tenn., was excited for this opportunity to visit with servicemembers. Jewell, who has asked for years to come out on USO tours to Afghanistan, finally got his shot this year.
“My good buddy Kenny Thomas, who has done a lot of work for the soldiers, he and I were riding together a while back and I said I really wanted to get on one of these tours for a long time,” said Jewell. “A couple of weeks later the phone rings and he said, ‘There’s a spot available, you want to go?’ I said yes. It’s a thrill to be here.”
Joe Cook, Dallas resident and guitarist for Buddy Jewell, said he enjoys being here and entertaining the soldiers, even if it means missing Christmas at home with his family.
“Buddy called me up and asked if I wanted to participate,” said Cook. “I always wanted to, because all of my family is military.”
Cook added that both of his grandfathers fought in World War II. He has an uncle who fought in Vietnam and a cousin who recently joined the Marines.
The guitarist said he respects the work of all the servicemembers in Afghanistan and said his job isn’t the same without the work done overseas.
“I get to do what I do for a living because of you guys protecting my freedoms,” said Cook. “It’s the least I can do, to be able to come over here. (It) makes me proud to do what I do. I can’t wait to get home and tell everyone I come into contact with what you guys do over here for our nation.”
To the delight of soldiers from 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division’s Task Force Patriot soldiers, two Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders came on the trip to entertain the troops. Brandi Redmond and Nicole Hamilton brought smiles and laughter to every person with whom they came in contact.
Redmond said she is especially motivated to do this tour because of her family.
“I came out here because I wanted to give back,” said Redmond. “My brother is serving in the military right now; it means a lot.”
Hamilton said she was excited to see the soldiers and was amazed at their work ethics and hoped to help them relax a little bit.
“I guess it really makes me appreciate what you guys do over here,” she said. “All the Soldiers do is work, work, work. I got to see the soldiers’ softer sides today.”
The entertainers left a lasting impression with the Soldiers, and the TF Patriot soldiers left a lasting impression on them, too.
“To see the smiles on their faces and see how genuinely grateful they are to see us here, it makes us really proud,” said Jewell.