Country star entertains troops in Germany

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Scott Saldukas
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Country music icon Toby Keith performed for the Kaiserslautern Military Community at a jam-packed concert May 1 here.

The concert was headed up by officials from the USO, Armed Forces Entertainment and the 86th Services Squadron here and was open to all military ID card holders.

Mr. Keith has performed for military members for more than eight years and he makes it a point to set aside time in tribute to them each year.

"Being an adult at the time of (Sept. 11, 2001) and knowing people were being called upon by their country to go into a battle zone, we just felt compelled to do it," Mr. Keith said. "It was an eye opening and wonderful experience that we had, so we had to dedicate two weeks a year to them."

Although Mr. Keith was never a part of the uniformed services, he has always been an avid military supporter.

"My father was in the military and he came home with the vision in one eye taken away from him while my mother and three kids were at home," the singer said. "I was 16 or 17 before I knew he was blind in that eye. He never complained about it."

At a young age, Mr. Keith's father taught him to respect veterans and current armed forces members, and to appreciate diversity of the military. Because of this, he tries to bring something different to each show.

"It's not like playing stateside shows," he said. "If someone yells out a song they want to hear, we'll play it. I try to put a smile on everyone's face and try and bring them in and make them laugh."

He also tries to bring many servicemembers backstage so he can meet them before the concert. More than 15 wounded warriors met the artist and expressed their gratitude for his concert.

The appreciation for the music star was evident with not only the overwhelming crowd size of more than 4,000 people, but also their thunderous applause.

"I love it," said Staff Sgt. Joseph Dannelly, an 86th Logistics Readiness Squadron fuel specialist. "He is a huge supporter of the troops and I wouldn't miss this event."

An event like this also pays dividends to family members who serve in their own way.

"It's great for the troops to be able to relax and come out to see the concert," said Mary Watson, mother-in-law of Senior Master Sgt. Karl Campbell from the 86th Maintenance Squadron. "I think it's just as important the event gives so much back to the family members and offers them a little piece of home."

Mr. Keith's 14-day tour will take him to various military locations in South Korea, Germany and the Persian Gulf.