Country music singer walks 100 miles for troops
May 10, 2011
FORT HOOD, Texas, May 10, 2011 -- Country music singer Granger Smith, wearing combat boots, started his 100-mile walk for the troops in South Austin, April 24, 2011. His trek ended four days later at Fort Hood, Texas.
One might wonder why anyone would choose to walk 100 miles across Central Texas, much less in a pair of combat boots. It was for a good cause - the men and women serving in the military.
"We put this sacrifice on our bodies to represent the giant sacrifice that they (Soldiers) give for us every single day - for our freedom," Smith said. "We are still a country at war. It's easy to forget that. They (Soldiers) volunteer to do this and they work 24/7. So, if you see a Soldier, thank him."
Smith has always been an avid supporter of the military. He and his band have been to Iraq and Kuwait to play for the troops three times, as well as performed in several USO tours, making fans and friends along the way. Some of those Soldiers near and far, upon hearing of Smith's walking tour effort, joined him in the walk.
Sgt. David Bryson, 96th Transportation Company, 180th Transportation Battalion, 4th Sustainment Brigade, first met Smith in Heidelberg, Germany, during a USO tour. Bryson walked the first 16 miles with Smith from South Austin to Lake Travis. He met up with the group on April 28, at the Killeen Mall to finish the last leg of the walk into Fort Hood.
"Anybody willing to walk 100 miles in my boots to raise awareness for the troops is awesome in my book," Bryson said. "If I could have, I would have walked the entire 100 miles."
Lt. Col. Mike McGregor flew from the Pentagon to walk 30 miles of the trip with Smith and his team. McGregor first met Smith when he performed for the troops in Iraq.
"He performed for us once and came across as a real individual," McGregor said of Smith. "When (Major) General (Jeffrey) Hammond (retired) came to me and said 'find someone to entertain our troops,' I emailed Granger. He came for Christmas, and then he stayed for New Year's."
"At that point," McGregor said. "I knew he (Smith) was different. He's a great guy, a selfless patriot."
Brig. Gen. Peter Atkinson, III Corps and Fort Hood deputy commanding general - Canada, presented Smith with a plaque in appreciation for all the country singer has done in support of raising awareness for the troops.
"Smith is an example of another great American who supports our Soldiers, who volunteer to put themselves in harm's way to protect our freedoms," Atkinson said. "And they do that knowing they are supported by people like Granger Smith."
Smith is humble in all the praise, saying he's happy to do it as just a small token for all that the men and women in the military do for their country.
"For a Soldier to say he is glad I'm doing this, if it helps his morale, then I've done my job," Smith said. "Maybe one Soldier who's going into work, or is about to deploy or is on leave and he sees us walking, and he sees us supporting him as civilians. If that lifts him or her up, then that whole walk was worth it to me."
Lt. Col. Jim Speegle, III Corps, said he was listening to Smith's music when he heard that Smith was walking to Fort Hood from Austin. Speegle met Smith on one of Smith's tours to Iraq.
"He donates his time to support the troops," Speegle said. "It doesn't get any more genuine than that."
Smith held a meet and greet, signed autographs and held an acoustic concert for Soldiers and their families at Legends Pub after recuperating from the walk. He left his combat boots on.