By 13th Sustainment Command Expeditionary Public AffairsDecember 23, 2009
CONTINGENCY OPERATING LOCATION ADDER, Iraq - Adm. Michael G. Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, accompanied by several celebrities on a United Service Organizations tour, visited Contingency Operating Location Adder, Iraq, Dec. 18, to meet with local dignitaries and discuss progress in southern Iraq.
Country music singer Billy Ray Cyrus, tennis star Anna Kournikova and comedian Dave Atell came for a meet and greet at Memorial Hall at COL Adder to take pictures, sign autographs and meet service members.
Mullen said the area has improved since his last visit and he expects Iraq to become even more stable after the elections.
"There has been remarkable progress since I was last here," he said. "It is a tribute to a great deal of hard work and an awful lot of sacrifice on the part of Iraqi and American citizens."
Mullen said he is focused on maintaining the relationship between the U.S. and Iraq throughout and after the drawdown.
"I very much look forward to a long-term relationship between the United States and Iraq, and that relationship will grow into a partnership," he said. "The United States will never forget Iraq."
Cyrus said he had been touring with Mullen and the USO for about a week throughout Afghanistan and Iraq.
"It is an honor and a privilege to be here, in Iraq, seeing the brave young men and women risking their lives day in and day out for freedom," he said.
The trip was eye-opening for him, Cyrus said, and that it gave him a whole new appreciation for the United States military.
"For me, to be with our troops during this holiday season, I have to tell you what I have witnessed the last week from Afghanistan to here in Iraq: we have got the greatest military in all of the world," he said. "I am proud of our troops and this trip, for me, I will never forget. This is the trip that I learned how awesome our military really is."
Staff Sgt. Mario A. Bonilla, a training noncommissioned officer with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 36th Sustainment Brigade out of Temple, Texas, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), participated in the meet and greet at Memorial Hall.
Bonilla, a Long Island, N.Y., native, said meeting everyone and witnessing their appreciation for the troops was a great experience. He got a picture with Cyrus to send to his daughter because she is a fan of Miley Cyrus, the singer's daughter who plays Hannah Montana on TV.
Although Bonilla did not get to meet Mullen, he said he appreciates Mullen traveling overseas to see how his troops live and work.
"Once you are here, it is different; you actually see how we are living and what we are doing," he said. "It is a good morale builder when higher command comes out here."