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USO Summer Tour Visits Red Tails

  • Published
  • By Maj. William Mojica
  • 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

Hundreds of U.S. and Joint Coalition service members got a chance to meet celebrities and relax during the 2019 USO Summer Tour on July 5.

Chief of the National Guard Bureau Gen. Joseph Lengyel and representatives from the USO accompanied seven performers, including former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson, season three winner of The Voice, Cassadee Pope, Miss America 2019, Nia Franklin, comedian and former NFL cheerleader, Anjelah Johnson, country singer Laura Bryna, and actresses Mayim Bialik (The Big Bang Theory) and Toni Trucks (SEAL Team).

“I am honored to be here, and happy belated Fourth of July to all of you,” Lengyel said. “You represent the United States of America to everyone here in the region, our coalition partners, and everyone that you meet. I couldn’t be more proud and I want to thank you for your service because you are the nation’s most important weapon system.”

As the show began, each of the celebrities echoed Lengyel’s thanks during their various performances, which required a lot of audience participation and resulted in many laughs, cheers and clapping throughout.

“It’s really good to be here and we are so honored,” Anjelah Johnson said. “This is my first USO tour and I speak for all of us when I say that we are so grateful for all of you and your service. Thank you so much! We appreciate you and it’s been an amazing experience.” 

Before singing an original song entitled ‘Hometown Heroes’, which was used in the national campaign for the Air National Guard, Bryna addressed the crowd expressing similar sentiments.

“Thank you all so much for having us here,” Laura Bryna said.  “It’s such an honor and thank you for all that you do.  We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you.  You give your time and your energy away from your families so that we can be with ours and live our dreams. We’re totally blessed and so honored to live in the United States so thank you for all that you do.”

During the show, Airmen were able to join some of the celebrities on stage to participate in several activities, including a push-up competition with Toni Trucks, a script reading with Toni Trucks and Nia Franklin, a script reading from The Big Bang Theory with Mayim Bialik, and a fighters “face-off” with Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson.

The show closed with a performance by Cassadee Pope – who brought several service members on stage for a sing along with audience interaction during her final song.

After the show, the guests - who all volunteered their time to come on the tour - signed autographs, took pictures and chatted with service members, many of whom were star-struck.

“Being away for the Fourth of July, it was awesome that the USO and these celebrities brought a little bit of home to us,” said Staff Sgt. Abigail Paisley, 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing manpower NCO in charge.

This was third stop of the USO summer tour in 2019. The USO has been bringing entertainment to service members overseas for more than 77 years to help keep them connected to their home and family.