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Until every one comes home | The Magazine of the USO

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U.S. Navy Admiral Mike Mullen, right, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and his wife, Deborah, introduce the performers during the USO holiday tour on Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, on December15, 2010. DOD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeleyU.S. Navy Admiral Mike Mullen, right, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and his wife, Deborah, introduce the performers during the USO holiday tour on Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, on December15, 2010. DOD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeleyFor the 2010 edition of the USO’s annual holiday tour, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen will be joined by an eclectic and ultra-talented group of entertainers for his seven-day, overseas visit. 

The list includes seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong, Grammy award-winning comedian Lewis Black, country music star Kix Brooks, Hall of Fame songwriter Bob DiPiero, comedian Kathleen Madigan and Academy award-winning actor/comedian Robin Williams.  

The USO has teamed with the Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs since 2000, launching 12 entertainment tours which have reached over 150,000 service men and women. So far for the 2010 tour, the group has visited three military bases and lifted the spirits of more than 3,800 troops. Among the bases visited were Baghdad's Sather Air Base, Camp Victory, Camp Liberty. All six entertainers on this current tour are making return trips for the USO.  

Comedian Robin Williams, left, visits with U.S. Army Lieutenant General John F. Campbell, right, after the USO holiday tour on Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, on December15, 2010. Campbell is the commanding general, Combined Task Force 101. DOD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeleyComedian Robin Williams, left, visits with U.S. Army Lieutenant General John F. Campbell, right, after the USO holiday tour on Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, on December15, 2010. Campbell is the commanding general, Combined Task Force 101. DOD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley“This will be my fifth overseas tour with the USO and each time I feel like the men and women serving our country give more to me than I could ever bring to them,” Williams said. 

Black echoed Williams.  

“So many times you hear about celebrities lifting the spirits of troops but it’s really the other way around,” he said. “Their dedication and optimism is infectious and I can’t thank Admiral Mullen or the USO enough for giving me the opportunity to once again perform in front of the best audience in the world.” 

Armstrong recognized the dedication put forth by our service men and women.  

“As an athlete I know what it is like to train everyday and strive to be the best in my field but no one knows more about that than our troops,” he said. “They dedicate every day of their lives to becoming the best in the world and fight for our freedom.

“I am as touched today as I was back in 2007 and while the faces are different, the experiences are the same, life-changing,” he added. 

U.S. Navy Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Deborah Mullen, Robin Williams, Lance Armstrong, Kathleen Madigan, Lewis Black, Bob Dipiero, and Kix Brooks pose for photos after the USO Holiday Tour show at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, on December15, 2010. DOD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeleyU.S. Navy Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Deborah Mullen, Robin Williams, Lance Armstrong, Kathleen Madigan, Lewis Black, Bob Dipiero, and Kix Brooks pose for photos after the USO Holiday Tour show at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, on December15, 2010. DOD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeleyFor Admiral Mullen and his wife, Deborah, it’s an opportunity for him to extend personal thanks to those who will likely spend the holidays apart from their loved ones living stateside. 

“The holiday season is a special time of year for our troops and their families, especially when those troops are deployed,” the chairman said. “Deborah and I are delighted to bring a little bit of home to them with this terrific show. We thank the stars who are being so generous with their time and talent, and we thank the USO for once again making it all possible.” 

Christian Pelusi is a former USO Senior Web Editor.