Country music legend Charlie Daniels comes to Baghdad, concludes overseas tour

Blackanthem Military News, CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq, April 24, 2006 6:00

 

Charlie Daniels shows off his DCU top, a gift from Maj. Gen. J.D. Thurman, commanding general of 4th Infantry Division, at a pre-show party at the division headquarters Tuesday. The Charlie Daniels Band and its entourage received hats and shirts embroidered with the 4th Inf. Div. patch as well as pocket knives. Camp Liberty was the final stop on the band’s second concert sweep through Iraq as part of the Stars for Stripes tour. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Kristin Kemplin, 363rd MPAD) 

Armed with an electric fiddle, country music legend Charlie Daniels took the stage to perform for Multi-National Division-Baghdad area troops
April 18.

More than five hundred troops and civilians erupted into cheers as the country music icon and his band kicked off an outdoor concert in front of the 4th Infantry Division headquarters here.

Opening for the Charlie Daniels Band was the 4th Inf. Div. country band "Stony Creek," which warmed up the crowd with a smattering of old favorites.

The audience was also treated to a stand-up comedy routine by CBS weatherman Dave Price, who toured with the Daniels band as an emcee/comedian.

"We love playing for the military," said Daniels, an outspoken military supporter.

The Charlie Daniels Band rounded out the night with an impressive performance of hits, including "Redneck Fiddlin’ Man," "The Legend of Wooley Swamp," "Simple Man" and finished with crowd favorite "The Devil Went Down to Georgia."

"It was an excellent show," said 1st Sgt. Kirk Gibson, first sergeant for Company B, 2nd Battalion, 137th Infantry Regiment. "He’s a die-hard American. He supports the troops 100 percent, and we are all grateful for it," said the Wichita, Kan., native.

"I am glad I got to see him," added Col. Ray Letson, deputy commander for 335th Theater Signal Command, a native of Decatur, Ala., and a long-time fan of the country star.

Some troops were especially appreciative of the band’s willingness to fit in the overseas tour despite its rigorous tour schedule back home in the States.

"I think it’s great that he is a country legend and he took the time to come all the way out here and play for us," said Spc. Sabrina Hagler, human resources specialist, 62nd Engineer Battalion, and native of Ozark, Ala.

Prior to the show, Daniels and his entire band met with Maj. Gen. J.D. Thurman, commanding general of 4th Infantry Division. Each member of the crew received gifts from the general. Daniels received an army DCU top with his name sewn on it as well as the commanding general’s coin.

"What you do for these Soldiers is tremendous, and I just want to thank you for it," said Thurman.

The concert at Camp Liberty polished off the band’s second tour through Iraq with Stars for Stripes, a non-profit organization that brings entertainment to U.S. troops serving in remote locations not typically visited by United Service Organization tours.

Free concerts represent only one way that Daniels continues to support the troops. On November 18, Daniels launched Operation Heartstrings, a program that collects musical instruments, albums, DVDs, CD and DVD players donated from various corporations and distributes them to troops serving overseas.

Daniels proudly announced on the night of his final concert in Iraq, that Operation Heartstrings’ efforts have come to fruition as thousands of donated goods began arriving in Kuwait at the beginning of April.

In the months ahead, musical instruments will begin to crop up across the country thanks to the Tennessee National Guard, Tennessee Air Guard and U.S. Army Europe. They are coordinating transportation of the items to various camps in Afghanistan and Iraq. The distribution of the items to Soldiers will then be handled by the main Morale, Welfare and Recreation centers at the camps.

Daniels will continue to tour back in the States, starting in Biloxi, Miss., but he said he will not forget the Soldiers still deployed in the Middle East.

"The time has flown by. It seems like we just got here. It seems like we just rolled in and tomorrow we leave and go back. And let me tell you something, I’m gonna take y’all back … right here," said Daniels, putting his hand to his heart.

 

By Sgt. Kristin Kemplin
363rd MPAD

 

 

 

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