KIRKUK, Iraq -- Kid Rock and the Twisted Brown Trucker Band entertained servicemembers at Forward Operating Base Warrior in Kirkuk, Iraq, Dec. 2.
"Tour for the Troops 2009", formerly known as Operation Season's Greetings, also included comedian Carlos Mencia and singer/songwriter Jessie James. The two-week event, which began in Europe and will travel throughout Southwest Asia, is their way of thanking the troops for their work and sacrifices.
The concert on FOB Warrior began with James, who sang several songs from her debut album. James, whose father is a colonel in the U.S. Air Force, hoped the event would allow servicemembers to take a break from their duties to relax.
"I hope the troops take away a good time," James said. "I think they need a break from all this, just smile and act like boys and crazy girls."
James said her favorite part of performing for the troops was seeing them enjoy themselves and feels that it's important for celebrities to show their support because without the servicemembers, they wouldn't have the freedoms to perform.
James was followed by Mencia, who performed for nearly an hour using his distinctive wit and upbringing as an immigrant to keep the crowd laughing.
"I'm just here to entertain, to give a little piece of home and to tell some jokes about back home and make people remember that there are a lot of us out there that care," Mencia said.
Mencia said following his visits overseas to entertain troops; he receives unbelievable praise and credit.
"People write about me and people say 'Hey Carlos, thanks for performing for the troops' but, when you [servicemembers] go home you don't get that kind of fanfare and you're here sacrificing way more than I could ever imagine."
The final and main event of the evening was Kid Rock, who had crowds cheering as he performed songs including his "Rock and Roll Jesus" and "All Summer Long."
Performing for the troops is great because the military is the most receptive audience in the world, Rock explained.
Rock said he was raised to be very patriotic which was evident even in his early music and that he started doing anything he could for the military. Rock also said this was his fifth concert tour in support of the troops.
"It makes me feel great to be here and play my music, have people respond and that makes me feel great anywhere but, to do it over here is extra special," Rock said.
Rock said it's important for everyone to show their support for the troops because while Soldiers don't create policy, they execute it and people should never lose sight of that.
"But, I'm in the entertainment industry and I think it's important to [entertain troops] because we more so than anyone enjoy and take full advantage of all the freedoms that they protect for us," Rock said. "To give a little bit back and say thank you, to use your God-given talent to entertain the people that do so much for us I think is the least we can do."
Prior to the concert at Warrior, the tour made a stop at nearby Join Security Station McHenry, near Hawijah, in Kirkuk province. Soldiers were able to get memorabilia autographed and photos with the stars.
"It's kind of a 'wow its Kid Rock' thing," said Pfc. Benjamin Whittaker, a Boise, Idaho, native and an infantryman with 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division.
"I am a big fan, and it's a good present to get to see someone famous before we leave Iraq." Pfc. Whittaker said. "It was a surprise to hear Kid Rock was coming, because no one really famous has come to visit us. It's good to see people remember we are here."
For another Soldier at McHenry who is several weeks from completing his deployment to Iraq, the visit was the perfect send-off for him and a great way to welcome his replacement.
"I think it says a lot about their character, because they came here to support the troops and it shows that we are not alone," said 1st Lt. Billy Bridges, a Killeen, Texas, native and an infantry officer with 1st Bn., 8th Cav. Regt. "This is good for the incoming troops, because it shows that they are not alone out here, and it is a good going away present for the people who are getting ready to go home."