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Old USO Article from USO Site

this might help with some of it.


VenusMattson579's picture

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rtfan100788's picture

Here is an article i had pulled off of the USO site some time back - I thought it was interesting. Some may already have seen it in the past. Enjoy. Country Music and the USO The USO's partnership with the country music industry is as old as the USO. The Grand Ole Opry and Gene Autry's radio show, "Melody Ranch," were popular programs during the 1940s. Country music stars from both programs traveled on several USO tours, entertaining military personnel stationed around the world. Thanks to exposure on USO tours, country music was introduced to many service members from Northern regions of the United States who had considered the genre "hillbilly" music. In the early 1940s, Autry served his country flying C-47 cargo planes in the China-Burma-India Theater. When the war ended, "the singing cowboy" toured in the Pacific with a USO troupe, thus beginning the long-standing tradition of country artists traveling on USO tours overseas to boost troop morale. In 1949, in partnership with the Grand Ole Opry, Red Foley, Roy Acuff, Minnie Pearl, Rod Brasfield, Little Jimmy Dickens, Hank Williams and others toured U.S. military bases in England, Germany and the Azores. In the 1950s, Carolina Cotton, the Yodeling Blonde Bombshell, entertained military personnel in Europe, North Africa, Korea and Japan. The USO sent Patsy Cline and Jerry Reed to Hawaii in 1960 to perform and shake hands with military personnel. Red Foley and Roy Acuff accompanied Bob Hope on USO overseas tours in 1961. Acuff toured again in 1962, traveling to the Eastern Mediterranean region for eight weeks, while modern country singer Johnny Cash went to the Pacific for three weeks. Acuff and his Grand Ole Opry tour continued to perform for service members throughout the 1960s. During the Vietnam War, Roy Acuff and the Grand Ole Opry stars visited Vietnam and Thailand from 1967 to 1970. Acuff and his wife, Mildred Douglas, also toured military hospitals in Japan, the Philippines, Guam, Okinawa and Hawaii, stopping at bedsides, signing autographs and shaking hands. Roy Rogers and Dale Evans also toured in Vietnam. After the Vietnam War, the number of USO tours declined. Country music artists began touring with the USO again in the 1980s. Legendary country singer Loretta Lynn embarked on her first USO tour in 1983 and, in 1986, traveled to the Pacific to boost troop morale. In 1985, Mickey Gilley and Kris Kristofferson toured with the USO to the Pacific. The following year, military personnel stationed in the Mediterranean and Caribbean were treated to performances by Barbara Fairchild, Razzy Bailey and Lee Greenwood. Holiday tours are a long-standing USO tradition, providing entertainment to troops when it is the most difficult time to be away from family and friends. The Judds premiered in Cuba in 1987, skipping a week-long Thanksgiving vacation to bring holiday cheer to service members stationed at Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Randy Travis entertained an estimated 30,000 service members stationed in Germany and Italy during the two-week 1987 USO Christmas tour. Thanksgiving 1988, Randy Travis and Patty Loveless performed 12 shows in Alaska, Japan, and Korea. Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty spent Christmas 1988 with the troops stationed in Germany, Greece and Spain, and visited service members aboard ships in the Mediterranean. Also in 1988, Charlie Daniels and country starlet Nicolette Larson performed for service members and their families stationed in the Caribbean. Country music superstars Ricky Skaggs and Suzy Bogguss spent 15-days in the Pacific with military personnel in January 1989. In March, troops stationed in Alaska and Japan were entertained by Steve Warner and Holly Dunn. Randy Travis's third USO tour took him to southern Europe in November 1989, while Charley Pride traveled to a number of bases in December. Completing his fifth USO tour in three years, Lee Greenwood entertained troops in Iceland, Greenland, Newfoundland, Scotland and England. That same year, he traveled to Panama where he performed nine shows in two days. Country music artists, such as Charlie Daniels, the Forester Sisters, Larry Gatlin, Ricky Skaggs and Randy Travis traveled with the USO extensively to boost troop morale in the 1990s. Tour headliner Travis performed for troops on his annual USO Thanksgiving tour in 1990. The following year, KT Oslin made her USO debut in November, entertaining troops in Honduras, Panama, Cuba, Antigua and Bermuda. Continuing to spread holiday cheer, Skaggs, the founder of the "new traditional" country music, and The Whites, "the first family of country music," traveled to Asia and the Middle East. Domestically, Lee Greenwood bought smiles to service members at Fort Benning, Ga. In 1991, the Forester Sisters entertained service members in Iceland stationed far from home for the holidays. USO tour veterans Ricky Skaggs, Holly Dunn, Charlie Daniels and Lee Greenwood traveled with the USO in 1992. Daniels also toured with the USO in 1993, 1994 and 1995. In 1993, the USO sent out the first entertainers to a military base in Somalia, Clint Black and Lisa Hartman. Larry Gatlin ventured into Somalia that same year before traveling to Haiti and Korea. "USO Country Christmas," a tour which became popular in 1993 and 1994, sent Rick Orozco and the Forester Sisters to boost troop morale; and, in 1995, the Nashville Bluegrass Band joined the roster. Best known for blending traditional honky-tonk with rock energy, Mark Collie's first USO tour sent him to Bosnia, Hungry and France in 1996. Delivering a touch of home to troops, Mary Chapin Carpenter traveled to Scotland, just as Oklahoma native Becky Hobbs embarked on her first USO tour to Italy in 1996. The following year, Carpenter brought holiday cheer to troops serving in "Operation Joint Guard." Also in 1997, Rick Orozco performed for military personnel in the Balkans and Hungary. In 1998, the Country Music Association was presented with the Spirit of Hope Award, given to individuals, organizations and corporations that demonstrate a commitment to enhancing the quality of life for service members and their families around the world. In 1999, Reba McEntire was one of the many USO entertainers who performed for service members in Naples. Mary Chapin Carpenter and Shane Minor joined the annual "Delivering America" tour to spend the holidays with troops thousands of miles from home in Italy, Bosnia, Macedonia and Kosovo. Country singer Claudia Church accompanied Paul Brandt on tour in July 1999, traveling to Germany, Oman, Hungary, Macedonia, Bosnia, Iceland and the United Kingdom. In 2000, Ricochet and Lisa Angelle participated in "Operation Season's Greetings," a tour created to boost troop morale after tragedy struck the USS Cole in October, killing 17 sailors and injuring 39. In 2001, The Bellamy Brothers, Danni Leigh and Becky Hobbs were just a few of the performers who brought a "touch of home" to troops overseas in celebration of Independence Day. The "USO Holiday Tour 2001" sent Neal McCoy on tour, entertaining more than 10,000 service members in Italy and Bosnia. In 2002, Tracy Byrd performed for troops at Fort Hood, Texas, while Charlie Daniels traveled to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Over the 2002 Memorial Day holiday, country music star Toby Keith brought his stage show to troops stationed in the Balkans. Jamie O'Neal and Restless Heart participated in "Operation Season's Greetings," providing entertainment to troops stationed in Europe and the Mediterranean. Former Army paratrooper and country music newcomer Craig Morgan performed for the troops in Afghanistan in 2002, and Neal McCoy, Darryl Worley, Aaron Tippin, Trace Adkins, Steve Azar, Anthony Smith and James Otto toured both stateside and overseas in 2002. In June 2003, "Project Salute," the first large-scale entertainment tour to Iraq and other locations in the Persian Gulf region since Operation Iraqi Freedom, brought a host of entertainers and professional athletes to pay tribute to the men and women of U.S. and coalition forces. Neal McCoy, Chely Wright and Lee Ann Womack were part of the star-studded brigade. In September, Lee Greenwood sang his hit "God Bless the USA" to troops stationed in Afghanistan, the United Arab Emirates and other locations in Southwest Asia. In November, McCoy toured Kuwait, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates. Darryl Worley and Mark Wills joined the "Hope and Freedom Tour 2003," which made stops in Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan and Qatar. Domestically, in 2003, Diamond Rio headlined an October "Welcome Home" celebration for service members based out of Savannah, Ga., while country newcomer Rachel Proctor performed in December for service members and their families at Fort Hood, Texas. Deana Carter's first USO tour took her to Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, in 2003. Country music legend, Merle Haggard entertained military personnel and their families in Hampton Roads, Va., during a Memorial Day concert. 2004 was also a busy year for country artists, with many traveling to Germany. In October, Sawyer Brown performed at the First Armored Division "Welcome Home" celebration before visiting service members recuperating at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. Brad Cotter, winner of the USA Network's "Nashville Star 2," also traveled to Germany in 2004, spending Thanksgiving with troops. In May, Toby Keith embarked on a whirlwind USO tour to Italy, Germany, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Kuwait and Iraq. Wynonna Judd performed at the Pentagon in recognition of Memorial Day and National Military Appreciation Month. Neal McCoy performed at the Annual USO World Headquarters' Gala before performing on two USO tours in 2004. Traveling to the Pacific, Mark Wills and Darryl Worley accompanied the Sergeant Major of the Army's "Hope and Freedom Tour 2004" to Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan. Displaying his continued support for the troops, USO tour veteran Toby Keith traveled to Cuba, Iraq, Afghanistan, Belgium and Germany in May 2005. Also traveling to Iraq, country music trio Rascal Flatts provided a morale boost to service members. Neal McCoy, another USO tour veteran and strong supporter of troops, entertained guests at the Annual USO World Headquarters' Gala in September. Country singer Ty England visited service members stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C., during the Second Marine Expeditionary Force Homecoming Celebration in October. Mark Wills, Craig Morgan and Keni Thomas traveled to Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait in December to spread holiday cheer. Neal McCoy was part of a tour to the Gulf Coast region to boost the morale of troops involved in the rebuilding efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Country music group Lonestar also performed for service members assisting with the clean-up efforts at Kessler Air force Base in Biloxi, Miss. The USO tour tradition, begun 65 years ago, continues today with country music artists headlining some of the USO's major tours. The relationship between country music and the USO will continue will continue as well, with several country music acts already lined up for 2006. The USO is grateful to all country artists who have contributed their time and talents to support service men and women stationed around the world, ensuring them that they are not forgotten. Note: This fact sheet was compiled, based on available USO historical records. It, therefore, may not include all country music performers who toured with the USO through the USO's 65 years of service. Always and Forever...An RT Fan Linda and Guide Greg