WASHINGTON — A pair of “American Idol” contestants with military backgrounds fought their way into the singing competition’s next round, and now are among 16 finalists vying for the top prize.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Philip Stacey and Chris Sligh, who grew up in a military community in Wiesbaden, Germany, both collected enough votes Thursday from the American television audience to remain in the contest for at least one more week.

In May, one of the 16 remaining contestants will be named the show’s top singer and receive a recording contract with RCA Records.

In this week’s shows, the signers each paid tribute to people who have helped them succeed in their lives.

Stacey, a 29-year-old stationed in Jacksonville, Fla., dedicated his performance Tuesday night to his fellow sailors in the Navy Band Southeast. His rendition of “Missing You” by Canadian rocker David Wilcox drew mostly positive comments from the judges.

Sligh, a 28-year-old currently living in South Carolina, dedicated folk artist Ray LaMontagne’s song “Trouble” to his wife, Sarah, and received similar warm reviews.

The two will perform again Tuesday, and will face possible elimination next Thursday when the field is whittled down from 16 to 12 contestants.

The men’s performances will be rebroadcast on AFN Family at 11 p.m. Saturday Baghdad time and the results show at 2 a.m. Sunday on the same channel.

Next week’s round will be shown Wednesday at 9 p.m. on AFN Spectrum.

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