'Lt. Dan' plays for Fort Carson audience despite rain, cold
May 24, 2012
FORT CARSON, Colo. (May 24, 2012) -- Wind, rain and cold weather couldn't deter fans Saturday as hundreds gathered at Ironhorse Park to see the Lt. Dan Band perform.
"I'm going to enjoy the show regardless of the weather," said Tara Gwynn as she hunkered down under her husband's Army-issued thermal blanket. "I don't care if it drops to 20 (degrees), we're staying."
Sgt. J.D. Reid, 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, came prepared for the nasty weather, erecting a makeshift shelter for his daughters, Kayden and Madison, to stay warm and dry.
"He carries (his poncho) everywhere," said Kristina Reid, J.D. Reid's wife. "He's prepared for the end of the world."
J.D. Reid said he wouldn't miss the opportunity to see the Lt. Dan Band perform.
"Gary Sinise is awesome," he said.
It is that dedication that keeps Lt. Dan Band performing, Sinise said.
"It's clear that it makes a difference," he said. "I see the kids smiling and people having a good time. It's a good feeling to know I'm doing my part."
Sinise began his music career in his youth, but opportunities to act in plays and movies took priority for the young actor. After several roles in movies and television, Sinise starred as Lt. Dan Taylor in "Forrest Gump," earning a nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role at the 1995 Academy Awards.
After 9/11, Sinise said he felt compelled to support the troops in whatever way he could. He began touring with the USO, performing for service members in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"We started off as a rag tag group of garage band players," he said. "When I first started bringing musicians with me, we needed a name. People recognized me, but they didn't know my name. They just called me Lt. Dan and began quoting lines from the movie."
Sinise said it was obvious what the name of the band should be and the Lt. Dan Band formed. The group features 13 members, including Sinise on electric bass and Vietnam War veteran Kimo Williams on electric guitar and vocals.
Williams said he began playing guitar in the jungles of Vietnam and was asked to entertain the other Soldiers.
"When they asked me to play for the troops, they told me to bring my guitar and my rifle," Williams told the audience.
Concert-goers cheered Williams as he played a guitar solo for the crowd.
It didn't take long before the band had the audience dancing and singing along to covers of Adele, Rascal Flatts, Kelly Clarkson and Earth, Wind and Fire.
Maj. Gen. Joseph Anderson, commanding general, 4th Inf. Div. and Fort Carson, took the stage as the group played Aretha Franklin's "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman."
Cassie Springer, Kirstin Tedrow and Loretta Robinson danced to every song as their husbands stood and watched.
"They never dance," Robinson said. "They just got home and we dragged them out here."
Staff Sgt. Cory Springer, Sgt. Jeff Tedrow and Staff Sgt. Tim Robinson returned home from a yearlong tour to Bahrain with the 615th Engineer Company, 52 Engineer Battalion, May 10. Although they resisted, by the end of the night they were dancing with their wives.
After finishing the concert with "Proud to be an American," Sinise thanked the crowd.
"You're in a very special group of people," he said. "Everything we can do to thank you for our freedom, we will do."