Fort Irwin rocked, rolled cheered and sang May 14 when actor Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band visited the post for a concert at Army Field.

The band, named for Sinise's character in the film "Forrest Gump," has traveled the world since 2004 playing for the troops and raising awareness of military-related causes. It was their second visit to Fort Irwin in little more than a year.

"It's good to be back here," Sinise said. "We've wanted to come back since we played here last year and I'm glad we were able to put a concert together again this year, because I think it's important. They're out here in the desert, and I'm sure they can use a little support and entertainment. It's important for me to be able to come out and show my appreciation for what our troops do and what they go through every day."

The band played a nearly two-hour set that covered a wide variety of artists - everyone from Jimi Hendrix to Gloria Estefan and the Zac Brown Band were represented.

Sinise said he and his fellow band members try to choose family-friendly songs they think will appeal to service members.

"I'm not just here to show off playing cover songs," he said. "I'm here for them. I want them to leave feeling good."

During the concert, Sinise thanked Fort Irwin's Soldiers and their families for their service.

"You are the defenders of freedom," he said. "We want you to know that we care about you."

Cpl. Jason Steffes, 1st Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, attended the concert with his wife, Shannon, and said he had fun.

"It was great, a nice change from going out to "The Box" all the time," Steffes said. "It's really cool that Gary Sinise does all this for the troops."

Seven-year-old Nathaniel Leisure, who attended the concert with his dad, Spc. Nathaniel Leisure, Operations Group Eagle Team, said he liked the Lt. Dan Band's finale rendition of Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA" the best.

Sinise is involved with charitable organizations that work with service members and their families, and he co-founded Operation International Children, which sends school supplies to children in Iraq. He said his motivation for helping service members stems from his respect for them.

"As long as they're out there sacrificing and serving, I think it's important to show our appreciation and support," Sinise said. "We owe them a lot. I know where my freedom comes from - it comes from people that have sacrificed for it in military service over the years."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16