Saturday, December 19, 2009

A USO Christmas Tradition

Last night the USO brought a Christmas show to Victory Base. I went with a small group to have some fun. The turnout was good: several thousand soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, civilians, and contractors gathered by the stage near the Oasis DFAC. I was sitting in the bleachers with a bunch of junior soldiers and sailors - a rowdy bunch, to say the least, but enthusiastic and totally into the experience.

There was a large open area in front of us and many people brought fold-up chairs to sit and watch the show. The area filled up until there was only a narrow strip in front of the bleachers. Then along came an older couple (KBR employees, by their tags) who brought, not chairs, but cardboard boxes to sit on. The soldiers and sailors around us thought this was hugely funny. Then it got worse: the woman parked herself on her box, but the guy just couldn't get himself down: he was leaning on other chairs, people, his wife, and having a really hard time getting his butt down to box level. Finally he did, and on the count of three, the box collapsed. So did all the soldiers and sailors around us. I tell ya, some civilians give the rest of us a bad name. The gent? He sat on his collapsed box the rest of the evening.

We had a surprise opening act. ADM Mike Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and his wife opened the show. They came out and had a lot of really nice, appreciative things to say. Very cool and a class act.

The next act was comedian Dave Attell. He was quite funny and very crude - but we're talking about a pretty crude audience, anyway, and he played to it. Then he brought out Anna Kournikova. She can't sing or dance or act, but who cares? She's great eye candy and was definitely a bigger hit than Dave was. The fact that she just recently became a US citizen endeared her all the more.

As I mentioned, we had a big, enthusiastic crowd.

The main act was Billy Ray Cyrus. He brought two members of his band with him and they put on a really good show. I'd never thought of "Amazing Grace" done as a blues song, but he did, and it was indeed amazing. They did a great job of getting people up, moving, and laughing.

At the end, they got everybody up on stage, including one guy from the audience who showed up as Santa, complete with his pistol. He got to pose for pictures with Anna and every guy in the audience is going to show up as Santa the next time she comes through town.

The USO has been around for 70 years now, and it was really cool to be part of a tradition that goes back to World War II. I used to watch the Bob Hope Christmas shows about the tours he'd do in Viet Nam. Now I've been to one. Many thanks to USO, to Admiral Mullen and his wife, to Billy Ray Cyrus and his band members, to Dave Attell, Anna Kournikova, and everybody who worked to make this happen. Our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines loved it. So did I.

1 comment:

  1. Hoping you had a safe, quiet, Merry Christmas and you have a Happy New Year.