By Sgt. Ryan Hohman, 27th Public Affairs DetachmentDecember 22, 2010
CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait -- With the holiday season just around the corner, many deployed servicemembers in Kuwait begin to feel the strain of being away from their Families and friends.
To give the servicemembers a night to relax and know that Americans back home appreciate the sacrifices they are making, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth O. Preston sponsored his seventh United Service Organizations' Hope and Freedom Tour at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, Dec. 17.
"There have been ten Christmases Soldiers have been away from their families and loved ones back home," said Preston. "I think for many of our Soldiers out there right now it is important to know that people back home keep them in their prayers and really care about the mission they perform every day."
The show, hosted by ESPN correspondent Leeann Tweeden, featured the U.S. Army Band "Downrange," musicians Keni Thomas, Alan Grace, Buddy Jewell and Emily West, Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders Nicole Hamilton and Brandi Redmond, and comedian Chonda Pierce.
"I thought the show was awesome. They had a really good mix of music and entertainers," said Staff Sgt. William Smith, a liaison officer with the 3rd Armored Calvary Regiment. "Being away from family and friends can be hard, but events like this help us stay focused on the mission at hand."
For many of the performers, this trip meant just as much to them as it did to the troops.
"Coming out here is the least we could do," said first-time USO performer James Jones, an Austin, Texas based guitarist for Keni Thomas. "You guys get up every morning and save people's lives. We wake up and go to the studio. It's a way for us to give back."
With this tour being Preston's last before he retires, he was able to look back and remember all the times he has been able to come through and tour Kuwait and see the hard work Third Army is doing.
"Every time I have come through Kuwait, the focus of the Third Army command and its Soldiers at being 'Ready to Fight Tonight' and support any mission is second to none," said Preston. "They do a magnificent job of making us and all the missions up north a success."
As the concert drew to a close, servicemembers returned to their rooms knowing no matter how far they are from home, the hearts of the American people will always be there to support them as they defend their freedom.