POPE AFB, N.C. - With the sun setting behind the hangers, the crowd continued to grow in front of the stage. Following the opening acts Airiel Down and Perry Howell and the Barn Burners, country music star, Craig Morgan performed a free concert on Pope Air Force Base, Sept. 17.
The former 82nd Airborne Division Soldier, said he related to the crowd and the long waits on the flight lines of Pope.
"It feels good to be back here, feels like home every time we're here," Morgan said. "I've spent a lot of time on this tarmac - the only reason I became a jumpmaster was that they were the last ones to put the parachutes on."
Morgan, originally from Nashville, Tenn., is no stranger to Fort Bragg. He was stationed at Fort Bragg from 1990 to 1992 in the 82nd Abn. Div. Morgan spent 10 years on active duty with the Army before beginning his music career. He now performs for military members and their Families regularly. Morgan said he understands the hardships that Families go through during deployments and volunteers regularly with the USO.
Being separated from Family was the reason why sisters Corina Hurst and Debbie Blake attended the free concert.
"This is the first time we've been together in forever," said Hurst, who has been stationed at Fort Bragg for nine years. "There's a 20 year difference between the two of us, we haven't been together for most of my life. This is a great pick-me-up for her, and this sort of brought us together," she said.
"We decided to do this together," said Blake. "I moved out here with just two suitcases to start over."
For Jerry and Darlene Mathes, the concert was something to enjoy together as well. "I'm a fan of any country music, it's great what (Morgan) does for the USO," said Jerry.
A big supporter of the USO himself, Jerry got to see Bob Hope while serving during Desert Storm, the same entertainer as his father did while serving in Vietnam.
Morgan sang many of his biggest hits including "That's What I Love About Sundays," "Red Neck Yacht Club," "Love Remembers," and many more.
Morgan stopped one of his songs after the first few lines to pull up a couple on stage after they got engaged during the show.
"Ma'am, do you know how hard it is to read and sing at the same time'" the country singer joked. The couple cuddled and kissed on stage as he serenaded them with "It Took a Woman."
Morgan showed that his roots are truly at Fort Bragg.
"It's just so great to see that he served our country, became famous, and now comes back home," said Dianne McDaniel, who came to the concert with her Family. "He is just too cool."