From Ali Al Salem Base in Kuwait we flew three hours on an Air Force C-17 transport jet. I arranged for David Archuleta to join me and the crew in the cockpit where he put on the headset to listen to the tower communications at takeoff and throughout the flight, and where we both had the opportunity to wear the Night Vision Goggles and clearly see things on the ground and in the night time sky as clearly as noon day! Our route took us over Pakistan (praying the whole way they wouldn’t change their mind about giving us access to the air space!) and along the Iranian border to Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan.
When we arrived and were taken to our DVQs (Distinguished Visitor Quarters) it was pointed out that the compound right across the street was the compound where Seal Team 6 trained and departed from to kill Osama Bin Laden. Cool.
After we got settled in, we were asked to do a show exclusively for the MP (Military Police) who were the prison guards at Sabula Harrison Prison on the side of the Base. The show was awesome – the best one so far, as they truly appreciated us for coming out to them to say thanks and give them a break from their daily routine of guarding the scum of the earth, positively dealing with degrading threats against America and their families, and being humiliated with human feces and urine being thrown at them as they work. These are some of the most mentally tough professionals in the military and I can speak for all of us in saying that we left the venue feeling we had just made some lifelong friends!
Our huge Base show was scheduled for the following Friday in the famous “Clam Shell,” so we departed on the Chinook helicopter to fly to Airborne FOB up in the high mountains, where we were greeted by two distinguished soldiers standing at attention in their BDUs, dawning their blue Stetson’s and spurs as proud members of the 3rd Calvary Division, 3rd Squadron “Brave Rifles.” The FOB is only a short distance from the famous battlefield called “Razorback Ridge,” where six Silver Stars have been awarded to soldiers who fought there! To the north of this FOB is another famous battle ground called “Roberts Ridge,” and to the west is where Marcus Lutrell (Lone Survivor) and his Seal Team members bravely fought, with the loss of life to many of his fellow Seals. Having shared the program with both Captain Self (Roberts Ridge) and Marcus Lutrell, performing and inspiring these extra brave troops made this FOB a very emotional and special experience for me! The Engineers had built an awesome stage especially for our show that was held in a huge tent that was also home to their amazing weight room/exercise facility. Our performance was extremely well received as they were also blown away by the fact that we had flown all the way to them in a dangerous place to say thanks! We flew the Chinook back to Bagram, and because of the excessive interaction with the enemy that day, they had added an additional tail gunner for our protection on our flight back.
Our show this evening in the “Clam Shell,” where every major act performs in Bagram, was the very best so far. We had dinner with General O’Neil and his boss Two Star General Townsend arrived in time for the show. I picked his brain about what he wanted me to address. I did. He loved the show and said it was the best he had seen in over ten years of deployments. We are humbled and grateful for this chance to bring a little slice of home to the troops through laughter, music and the healing power of a story!
We then hopped on a C-130 from Bagram for a four hour flight back to Ali Al Salem Base where we will speak at Camp Behring and then at Afrajon and finally at Patriot FOB before leaving on a commercial carrier (Ethiopia Air) from Kuwait International Airport to Addis Ababa and onto Djibouti. Will catch up then.
God bless our troops and their families. God bless America! My love to all of you. Dan