News: USO Holiday Tour visits troops at Bagram
Story by Staff Sgt. Dave Overson
BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan – Service members deployed to Afghanistan were treated to first-class entertainment with the USO Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Holiday Troop Visit at Bagram Airfield, on Dec. 15, 2012, featuring the soothing sounds of country music’s Kellie Pickler, who shot to fame on American Idol during its fifth season.
Accompanying Pickler were professional athletes Matt Hendricks of the Washington Capitals and Ross Detwiler and Craig Stammen of the Washington Nationals.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, introduced the entertainers and set the mood for a fun night to come.
“I take great pleasure in introducing entertainers, but I take even greater pleasure in interacting with soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines,” said Dempsey.
A USO holiday tour wouldn’t be complete without a comedian to set the tone of the evening. Iliza Shlesinger jump-started the fans with her off-the-cuff comedy routine, which left everyone in stitches.
Detwiler, the Nationals’ left-handed pitcher, actually cut his honeymoon short to join the tour.
“When I got the phone call to come here, I knew I would have to cut my honeymoon short, but when else am I going to get a chance to give back but now,” said Detwiler. “So my wife and my family understood and thought the same thing – I needed to do this.”
Finally it was Pickler’s turn to take the stage, and she did not disappoint. Her warm and engaging personality drew her fans in closer, as if everyone were in her living room on a Sunday afternoon.
In fact, Pickler was so accommodating she invited a few service members on stage to sing a song with her. One soldier, Spc. Ashley S. Williams, an imagery analyst with Combined Joint Task Force-1, 1st Infantry Division, enjoyed the time of her life on stage with Pickler.
“It was unexpected, but it was amazing,” said Williams. “My little sister wants to be a singer, and growing up I wanted to be a singer. Music is a very big part of our lives. We are country people, we love country music, and we love Kellie Pickler.”
“This being my second deployment to Afghanistan in less than two years,” added Williams, “the USO show was greatly needed. It was nice to let loose and just enjoy myself.”
Pickler performed a few of her hit songs like “Tough” and “Red High Heels,” to the adoring fans and closed the show with Dempsey singing “White Christmas,” with the crowd.
“During the holiday season, everyone wants to be home with their friends and family, so I know it’s hard on the troops," said Pickler. “Our goal is to bring a little piece of home to you all out here in Afghanistan.”