Joint Chiefs chairman, four celebs embark on USO tour of Far East
August 20, 2005
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and four United Service Organizations celebrities are headed to the Far East this weekend for four stops on a 10-day, whirlwind global tour that began earlier this week in Germany.
Air Force Gen. Richard Myers and his wife, Mary Jo, are visiting American troops around the world to assess morale and thank them for their service. They’ve brought along a band of entertainers — including NFL Hall of Famer Gale Sayers, Leeann Tweeden of Fox Sports Net’s “Best Damn Sports Show Period,” and comedians Colin Quinn and Jeffrey Ross.
The show, which has appeared in Kosovo, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan and Djibouti hits Osan Air Base and Camp Casey in South Korea on Saturday and Sunday before moving on to Yokota and Misawa air bases Monday. Three performances are scheduled in Hawaii and another at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, before the group returns to Washington next week.
“It’s kind of the chairman’s farewell tour,” said Maj. Tony Millican, the deputy chief of protocol for U.S. Forces Japan. “To have the chairman of Joint Chiefs come to your base is in itself very invigorating to the command. Then, with the stars taking time out of their busy schedules to do a world tour, that has a real positive effect on the troops. And any time you’re helping out troop morale, it’s contributing to the mission.”
Myers was commander of USFJ and the 5th Air Force from 1993-96. He will retire from the Air Force in September.
Both are based at Yokota, where organizers are expecting more than 1,000 people for Monday’s show at Hangar 15, which sits next to the flightline. Troops from nearby Camp Zama and Yokosuka Naval Base also are expected to attend.
“It’s basically a troop call from the chairman,” said Marine Maj. James Bell, a USFJ spokesman. “Some commanders will have latitude to let their troops come out and take part in the event. But it’ll be based on the ops tempo for that particular unit.”
Following Myers’ message to the troops, he’ll introduce Tweeden — who acts as the show’s moderator. Each star typically gets about five minutes on stage, organizers said.
Sayers played for the Chicago Bears from 1965-71 before his career was derailed by injuries.
Quinn was a longtime cast member of “Saturday Night Live” and also hosted “Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn” on Comedy Central. Ross has appeared on TV and films and hosted several celebrity roasts.
An autograph and photo session with troops and family members takes place at the end of each show.
“We’re very excited to be able to bring this kind of a lineup to Yokota,” said Lt. Col. Frank Jones, USFJ’s chief of protocol who organized the local event. “We’re thrilled about these guys coming.
“I’m personally amazed by the background work that goes into making this happen. It required across-the-board teamwork to prepare for something like this. We only had about two weeks’ notice, and everyone’s really come together to put on this show. It’s been fantastic teamwork across Yokota.”
USO tour information
Pacific stops on the 10-day USO world tour:
Saturday:Osan Air Base, South Korea, 9:10 p.m.
Sunday:Camp Casey, South Korea, 4:30 p.m.
Monday: Yokota Air Base, Japan, 2 p.m.; Misawa Air Base, Japan, 5:45 p.m.; then performances at Hickam Air Force Base, Schofield Barracks and Kaneohe Marine Corps Base in Hawaii.
Tuesday:Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska
How to get there
The Yokota event takes place in Hangar 15 near the flight line. Battle-dress uniform for servicemembers attending the Yokota show.
Parking is extremely limited, so organizers recommend using the base shuttle, which will begin running at 12:45 p.m. and continue until 1:30 p.m. Return service starts at 4 p.m.
Pickup and drop-off points include the base theater, Officers’ Club, Enlisted Club and Taiyo Recreation Center.
Misawa show starts at 5:45 p.m. in Hangar 949.
Parking will be available on the flightline side of the hangar. There will also be shuttle buses.
Attendance is mandatory for all military, nonmission essential personnel.
There will be 100-percent check of military IDs. No backpacks or strollers will be allowed.
The free show is open to the base community.
— Stars and Stripes