WASHINGTON (Army News Service, June 25, 2007) - The reigning Miss USA Rachel Smith and R&B artist KEM paid a call on the Army Friday. After lunch and a Pentagon tour, the two visited Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where they spent several hours chatting with wounded warriors.

"What impressed me most about the Soldiers I had lunch with today was the enthusiasm and pride they have in our country. It's contagious because I, too, am a representative of our country, and they passed some of their strength and advice to me," said Ms. Smith, 21-year-old daughter of dual army parents.

The Soldiers she dined with were equally impressed with the beauty queen who was also Miss Tennessee Teen USA in 2002.

"I realized after talking with her at lunch how genuine she is," said Staff Sergeant Ed Fountain, who serves in the Sergeant Major of the Army's office. "Even though her parents retired when she was very young, she's always lived around the Army and has a lot of respect for the military and what we do."

Visiting Soldiers was an added bonus for KEM, who last weekend performed at the White House in honor of Black Music Month.

"I'm in awe of the service of these Soldiers," he said. "It takes a very high degree of integrity and responsibility and sacrifice to do what they're doing."

After touring the Pentagon and visiting the Sept. 11 memorial center, Ms. Smith and KEM said they had a better understanding of what it means to be an American and to be a Soldier.

"It was really emotional to see where the plane hit on 9/11 and to meet the men and women who fight for our country on a daily basis," Ms. Smith said. "I have so much admiration for what our armed forces do... Not just anyone can do that."