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A variety of entertainers and celebrities will be making swings through Europe and the Middle East during the holiday season.

Robin Williams, Lance Armstrong, Kid Rock, Lewis Black and Miss USA Rachel Smith highlight a USO show that’s scheduled to stop at Aviano Air Base in Italy on Saturday.

The 1 p.m. show in Hangar 1, free to military ID cardholders, will be the last or next-to-last stop on a tour focusing on Afghanistan and Iraq. For security reasons, the dates downrange haven’t been announced.

“It’s an extremely ambitious schedule,” said USO spokesman John Hanson, who added that one more stop in Europe might be scheduled after Aviano.

Another USO tour geared for troops downrange and led by Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth Preston started Tuesday and runs through Dec. 26. Performers include country music singers Keni Thomas and Darryl Worley, comedians Vince Morris and Sheryl Underwood, TV personality Leann Tweeden and the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders.

Hanson said logistical problems forced the USO to shelve most of its tours planned for October and November, meaning that more tours will be scheduled in the next few months.

“Usually, everything just shuts down in January,” he said. “But that’s not the case this year.”

Details of those tours aren’t available.

In addition, Armed Forces Entertainment is sponsoring a handful of events throughout Europe.

Singer/songwriter Jenny Boyle and the Drivers will begin a tour on Dec. 28 at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. A show the next day in Stuttgart is to be followed by a New Year’s Eve performance at the Edelweiss Lodge and Resort in Garmisch.

Boyle, making her sixth tour for troops, will then head to Italy for more shows.

Rock band Cinder Road starts a tour with a New Year’s Eve show in Sigonella, Italy, then moves to Germany with shows at Garmisch (Jan. 4), Ramstein (Jan. 5), Stuttgart (Jan. 6), Baumholder (Jan. 7), Hohenfels (Jan. 11) and Mannheim (Jan. 12). The band will also perform at Chievres, Belgium, on Jan. 9, and at Brunssum, the Netherlands, on Jan. 10.

Another rock group, Handsome Devil, plays in Garmisch on Dec. 28 and in Hohenfels on Dec. 29 before heading to shows in Kosovo on Dec. 31 and Jan. 2 and Bosnia on Jan. 5. That’s followed by stops in Stavanger, Norway, Stuttgart, Mannheim and Ramstein.

A 14-show tour featuring stand-up comedians starts Jan. 18 in Garmisch, with stops in multiple countries. The Kansas City Chiefs cheerleaders also arrive in Europe in January, with seven performances set for Germany and Belgium.

Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for almost 38 years.
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