Rappers delight at welcoming soldiers back from Iraq
VILSECK, Germany — A thousand soldiers who recently returned from Iraq partied with friends and family while stars such as Michael Warren, Lil’ Romeo and Master P entertained them here Wednesday.
The soldiers — from the 94th Engineer Battalion, 18th Corps Support Battalion, 535th Engineer Company, 11th (Heavy Equipment) Transport Company and the 41st (Palletized Load System) Transport Company — returned from yearlong Iraq tours to bases at Grafenwöhr, Vilseck and Hohenfels during December, January and February.
The Vilseck celebration began with formations and awards ceremonies for each unit, with informal celebrations kicking off in a giant white tent in midafternoon.
The party included free food and drinks, alcohol, rides and entertainment for children, fireworks and performances by local band Second Hand Mojo along with the star attractions.
Food was the main attraction for Sgt. Brett Akers, 23, of Kansas City, Mo., and his wife, Sgt. Ledamine Akers, 22, of Washington, D.C., who spent a year together in Iraq with the 94th. They were the first soldiers from the recently returned units to enter the tent and the first to sample the hot dogs, chicken and corn on the cob laid out beside two massive stages.
Brett Akers, who returned Jan. 20, said the couple would head to the U.S. when the 94th inactivates in June but said they appreciated the free food and entertainment.
“It seems like they put a lot into this,” he said.
Vilseck Middle and High School Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadet Tamaria Hollis, 14, was excited to see Lil’ Romeo perform.
“He is from Louisiana and so am I. He raps and he has a television show about him and his sister and this white boy who they adopted. They have a rap group and they have problems just like regular teenagers,” she said.
Tamaria said Lil’ Romeo inspired her to rap, under the nickname “Chunk.”