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Lance Cpl. Josh Gracin has made the cut.

The U.S. Marine will sing again on the Fox television contest “American Idol.”

Gracin, 22, won the hearts of American viewers when he competed live Tuesday against 11 other contestants in the “Motown” episode. The results were announced Wednesday during another live airing of the program.

Gracin sang “Baby I Need Your Lovin’,” recorded by the Four Tops.

When the administration supply clerk, stationed at Camp Pendleton, Calif., drew criticism Tuesday from judge Simon Cowell, who suggested Gracin lose weight, the Marine dropped to the stage and began doing push ups — drawing applause from the audience. He challenged the judge to do likewise. Cowell declined.

More than 13 million viewers registered votes following Tuesday’s talent competition. Vanessa Olivarez, the eccentric dresser with hot pink highlighted hair, was the one booted off the program. The remaining contestants will compete again Tuesday during another live broadcast of the Fox talent show that pits singers against one another.

Fox Television has restricted media access and interviews to all contestants because they don’t want any one to have more exposure than others.

Many Marines from Gracin’s unit, the 1st Force Service Group, have been deployed to Kuwait. If Gracin gets deployment orders during the run of the program and is unable to complete it, Fox producers have promised to return him to next year’s competition at the same ranking — meaning if he makes it to the final six, for example, and then receives deployment orders, next year he will return to be one of the final six.

Troops cheer colleague

CAMP SCHWAB, Okinawa — The club manager of the “BeachHead” consolidated club was busy Friday preparing for a party to celebrate another Marine victory.

The club’s TVs were all set to be fired up for the crowd brought in by a payday weekend and Lance Cpl. Josh Gracin’s advance as a finalist in Fox TV’s “American Idol” competition.

“We’re letting the folks know we’ll be tuned in Saturday at noon and at 8 p.m. and at 4 p.m. Sunday for the show,” said Mike Monti, the club’s new general manager.

And those who watched Sunday saw Gracin — a 22-year-old supply clerk with the 1st Force Service Group — survive another round of cuts to become one of the final 11.

But even before the weekend, Marines elsewhere on Okinawa were talking about their Camp Pendleton colleague’s rise to the top.

“I read about him getting through were this week’s competition,” said Cpl. Joseph Winfield as he delved into his lunch outside the Camp Foster Shopette on Friday. “I’d been watching it with a girlfriend who was down here from Iwakuni.”

Winfield is assigned to Camp Foster’s Marine Wing Support Squadron 172.

“She was really into it,” he said. “But she’s gone back now, so I’ll have to find another place that has a TV.”

It won’t be hard. Most base clubs on Okinawa were to be tuned into the competition.

“We’ve talked about the show in the barracks,” said Winfield’s friend, Pfc. Juan Garcia. “I’ll definitely be watching.”

Both Marines think their brother-in-arms has a good chance of winning and being given a recording contract.

“But he has to get down and get crazy,” Winfield said.

— David Allen

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