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Chairman's Tour visits camp

By Cpl. G. Lane Miley | | December 19, 2003

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After much anticipation, members of Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa were graced with the presence of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and others during a show here Dec. 19.


The visit to Camp Lemonier marked the last leg of the Chairman's 2003 Holiday Tour, which was also a welcome break in the daily routine of service members fighting the Global War on Terrorism in Afghanistan and Iraq.


The United Service Organization show included entertainment from Academy-award winning, actor/comedian Robin Williams, Olympic gold medalist and professional wrestler Kurt Angle as well as NASCAR driver Mike Wallace.


The Chairman quickly got the show underway by telling each member of the audience how important they all are.


"The part you play in the war on terrorism is really tremendous," said Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers. "We know it's not an easy place to be, but we appreciate the fact you are out here, and we appreciate the fact that many of you left families back home."


The Chairman continued, "And if you talk to them tonight or whenever you get through to them, tell them we appreciate their sacrifice as well. For what you do is really important to this country."


Myers noted that he is not the only one who realizes these service members' sacrifices.


"I talked to Gen. (John) Abizaid about your mission out here, and he thinks your mission is mighty important," he said of the commander for U.S. Central Command. "So does our Secretary of Defense, so does the President."


Myers then introduced Angle, who said the proudest moment in his life was representing the United States at the 1996 Olympics and winning a gold medal. However, that did not compare to the work the troops are doing here.


He personally thanked the crowd and passed the microphone to Wallace.


Wallace passed on his best regards; those of his wife; brothers, Rusty and Kenny, and the rest of the NASCAR family.


"Thank you very much," the number four driver continued. "Thank you for what you do for our country. For we are able to do what we do because of you."


After Wallace lauded the troops for their efforts in the war on terrorism, a zealous Williams burst onto the stage in a manner reminiscent of his role in "Good Morning Vietnam."


Laughter filled the camp as he entertained the service members with his wealth of comedic material.


"I thought it was great. I expected them to just come out and say hi and meet and greet a little bit," remarked Spc. Daniel Smith, a military policeman with the Old Guard, Task Force Bravo. "I certainly didn't expect the show that we got at all."


The USO show also proved to be uplifting for a new father who recently returned from the war in Iraq before deploying here.


Marine Cpl. Jorge Chavezbustamante said the show meant a lot to him and brought his morale up.


For those members of CJTF-HOA who were in attendance, the event was a welcome break in their daily battle against terrorism in the Horn of Africa. Many of them received personally autographed photos from the celebrities. And will likely keep a signature of laughter in their hearts as they continue their efforts in the region.
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