• A Soldier with the 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, poses with comedian Iliza Shlesinger during a USO tour, Dec. 16, 2012, at Forward Operating Base masum Ghar, Afghanistan.

    USO tour comes to Masum Ghar

    A Soldier with the 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, poses with comedian Iliza Shlesinger during a USO tour, Dec. 16, 2012, at Forward Operating Base masum Ghar, Afghanistan.

  • Staff Sgt. Martaliz Merced, an intelligence noncommissioned officer with Combined Task Force 4-2, comprised of troops with 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, takes a photograph with Craig Stammen of the Washington Nationals, a Major League Baseball team based in Washington, D.C., during a USO tour visit, Dec. 16, 2012, at Forward Operating Base masum Ghar, Afghanistan.

    USO tour comes to Masum Ghar

    Staff Sgt. Martaliz Merced, an intelligence noncommissioned officer with Combined Task Force 4-2, comprised of troops with 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, takes a photograph with Craig Stammen of the Washington Nationals, a...

  • Country singer Kellie Pickler signs a guitar for Spc. David Saenz, a civil affairs specialist with 426th Civil Affairs Battalion, based out of California, during a USO tour, Dec. 16, 2012, at Forward Operating Base Masum Ghar, Afghanistan. Celebrities on the tour visited Soldiers with Combined Task Force 4-2.

    USO tour comes to Masum Ghar

    Country singer Kellie Pickler signs a guitar for Spc. David Saenz, a civil affairs specialist with 426th Civil Affairs Battalion, based out of California, during a USO tour, Dec. 16, 2012, at Forward Operating Base Masum Ghar, Afghanistan. Celebrities...

FORWARD OPERATING BASE MASUM GHAR, Afghanistan (Dec. 21, 2012) -- Two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters landed on a small Forward Operating Base in Southern Afghanistan, kicking up dust and causing a buzz from those on the ground.

Word around the base was that they were going to have some very special visitors, and not of the general officer type.

Celebrities with the United Service Organizations tour visited Soldiers of Combined Task Force 4-2, comprised of Soldiers from the 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Dec. 16.

Soldiers brought various items to be signed by the athletes and entertainers.

One Soldier, Spc. Shawn Kanyer, a satellite communication systems operator maintainer with 472nd Signal Company, had a hockey stick that he brought with him to Afghanistan signed by Matt Hendricks of the NHL team the Washington Capitals.

"It's nice to see really anybody from the team, so it's really nice that he came all the way out here to Afghanistan," said Kayner, a Tampa Bay, Fla., native.

"It helps keep the morale up," Kanyer added. "There's not a ton (of recreational activities) to do out here to keep us busy and whatnot, so any kind of event like this (to) remind us of how it is back home (is) real nice."

Spc. David Saenz, a civil affairs specialist with 426th Civil Affairs Battalion based out of California, asked country singer Kellie Pickler to sign his guitar.

"I know Kellie Pickler from watching American Idol with my mom back home," said Saenz. "So, I was really psyched that I got the opportunity to see her out here."

The visit was more than just a highlight for the deployed Soldiers; it was an eye-opening experience for the celebrities, including MLB team Washington Nationals pitcher, Ross Detwiler.

"These are the Soldiers who have it the worst, really, because they're kind of in the battle zone at all times," said Detwiler. "So, for us to be able to come out and thank them, it's a real honor because they're the ones who keep us free at home."

In order to visit the troops overseas, Detwiler had to cut his own honeymoon short.

"My wife wasn't mad," said Detwiler. "We wouldn't have been getting married to each other ... we wouldn't have had a honeymoon without the troops."

Conflicting schedules is often what stops a lot of celebrities from participating in USO tours, said Sloan Gibson, the president chief executive officer of the USO.

One of the most important things for the people who are able to make it on the tour is to get out to some of the smaller bases because those Soldiers don't get a lot of visitors, he explained.

"It's a real treat, especially this time of year, to come out here and remind everybody that we're thinking about them and that we appreciate what they do for us every single day," Gibson said.

After visiting for nearly an hour, the tour ended and the celebrities left the small forward operating base with a better idea of how deployed service members live and the Soldiers of CTF 4-2 went about their daily lives with the knowledge that they are not alone.

Page last updated Fri December 21st, 2012 at 00:00