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Henry Rollins signs an autograph for Spc. Ed Palmer on Wednesday at the Main Post Club on Yongsan Garrison, South Korea.

Henry Rollins signs an autograph for Spc. Ed Palmer on Wednesday at the Main Post Club on Yongsan Garrison, South Korea. (T.D. Flack / S&S)

Henry Rollins signs an autograph for Spc. Ed Palmer on Wednesday at the Main Post Club on Yongsan Garrison, South Korea.

Henry Rollins signs an autograph for Spc. Ed Palmer on Wednesday at the Main Post Club on Yongsan Garrison, South Korea. (T.D. Flack / S&S)

Spc. Ryan McNamee shakes hands with Henry Rollins during an autograph session Wednesday at Yongsan Garrison.

Spc. Ryan McNamee shakes hands with Henry Rollins during an autograph session Wednesday at Yongsan Garrison. (T.D. Flack / S&S)

YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Spc. Ryan McNamee got a chance to meet face-to-face Wednesday with the person who convinced him to join the military shortly after Sept. 11, 2001.

It wasn’t his recruiter; it was punk rock legend Henry Rollins, who was visiting South Korea as part of a United Service Organizations tour this week.

McNamee told Rollins that something the singer, actor and author said after the terror attacks on the United States convinced him to join the Army National Guard.

He said, “The world is coming to kill us and we’re sitting on our asses watching it on CNN,” said McNamee, who came on active duty in the U.S. Army about three months ago.

McNamee said he couldn’t wait to e-mail his friends the digital photo of him shaking hands with his hero.

Rollins, who spends about a month on USO tours each year, said it was his first trip to South Korea. He’ll also visit mainland Japan and Okinawa.

When he first talked to USO about visiting troops, his question was, “Will anyone know who I am?” he said Wednesday. He said he was surprised to be recognized.

“For some reason, they know who I am,” he said to laughs from the people gathering for autographs in the main post club’s foyer.

Rollins fronted the punk rock band Black Flag, which he joined in 1981 after jumping onstage at one of their shows and taking over the microphone. A year after their 1986 breakup, he formed the Rollins Band. Since then, he has toured with the band and alone as a spoken-word performer and has made dozens of television and film appearances.

Rollins, 44, said he spends the month traveling with the USO because “I support our military 100 percent.” He said visiting wounded troops half his age at military hospitals in the Washington area is emotionally tough.

He said the troops are very thankful and happy to see him during the visits. When he travels, he said, he wears his USO sweat shirt and troops will approach him in airports just to thank him.

“It’s a lot of work but it’s worth it,” he said, adding that if he can “lift someone’s spirits, I enjoy it.”


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