AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar, Dec. 6, 2016 —
The joint was rocking today as the Chairman’s 2016 USO Holiday Tour arrived to entertain and thank service members based here.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford and Army Command Sgt. Maj. John W. Troxell, the chairman’s senior enlisted advisor, came to Qatar after a show in Incirlik, Turkey.
The air base is a hub for U.S. efforts in the U.S. Central Command region and hosts about 10,000 American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines. Aircraft based here provide close-air support to indigenous forces taking on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
The base is also a tangible sign of U.S. support in a troubled region. It also hosts the U.S. Central Command forward headquarters.
The USO troupe -- actors Scarlett Johansson and Chris Evans; Olympic Gold Medalist Maya DiRado, NBA legend Ray Allen, Country Music star Craig Campbell and Mentalist Jim Karol --visited with units and service members at the base before taking the stage.
They also visited a bomber unit that provides precision support to forces operating in Iraq and Syria. They got a demonstration from soldiers manning a Patriot anti-missile battery that protects the base. They met with medics and security force personnel. And they watched Ttoby -- not a misprint -- and his handler demonstrate how a military working dog team takes down a threat.
Taste of Home
The thousands service members based here are not going home for the holidays, and the USO show is a way to give them a “taste of home,” the chairman said. Some of the service members are here on a two-year tour. Others are rotational. But all serve. “The reason why we’re here, is to do nothing more and nothing less than to thank you for who you are and what you do,” Dunford said. “I want you to know that what you are doing here is appreciated.”
The chairman stressed to the crowd that the performers volunteered to come to the Middle East to show service members that America remembers them and cherishes them. “We met the team late in the afternoon at Andrews Air Force Base on Sunday,” Dunford said. “They hadn’t met each other before. All they knew was they had volunteered to come out here to let you know how much what you do is appreciated.”
The team flew all night in a C-17 Globemaster III to Incirlik where they got off the plane and went immediately into meetings with troops and learning about their missions, the chairman continued. Then, they put on a show.
“We got them up early this morning and flew here and they have been engaging with you,” he said. “Talk about folks trying to take care of you.”
And tomorrow they will do it all over again in a different place.
(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)