By Spc. Ryan Stroud, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Public AffairsSeptember 28, 2007
BAQOUBA, IRAQ (Sept. 23, 2007) -- In what many consider to be the most dangerous time of year in Iraq, one country artist and his band turned away from the naysayer's and headed to Forward Operating Base Warhorse, outside of Baqouba, Iraq, to bring a "little piece of home" to the Soldiers stationed in the area in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom 06-08.
Fellow Texas native, Granger Smith, and his band of fearless musicians flew into Warhorse to play some of country's greatest hits, along with many songs from Smith's own catalog, to the Soldiers of the 3rd "Grey Wolf" Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, a brigade from Fort Hood, Texas, Sept. 23.
"I want to come here and bring a little piece of home to the Soldiers and I want them, for the hour and a half that we play, to actually feel like they are at home and to forget about being out here," Smith said.
"I want them to have the chance to forget about what's going on, to forget about their jobs and to have a little fun," he added.
"Today was our sixth day in theater playing shows for the Soldiers," continued Smith. "This has been great because each base has been different. We've gotten to do different things at each one and meet so many wonderful people, it's just been great - no, it's been awesome."
During his concert, Smith also said one of his favorite activities was coming to Warhorse, visiting the artillery battery and getting to "blow stuff up."
"Shooting some big guns, riding in humvees and hanging out with the Soldiers has been awesome," he said. "We've had a hell of a time out here."
But for Smith, the trip to Iraq hits a little closer to home than many of the Soldiers may think. While attending Texas A&M University, Smith, who was a member of the Corps of Cadets, was pushed by his fellow cadets to pursue music as a career.
"It was wonderful [to play for the Soldiers tonight] because [while in college], I was in the Corps of Cadets and those guys pushed me and supported me and my music," he said. "They motivated me to put out that first album and I really couldn't have done that without those guys' support."
And as a way for Smith to say "thank you" to those who helped inspire him to follow his dreams, Smith dedicated a song to those Soldiers and the Soldiers of Grey Wolf.
"I played a song tonight called 'Five More Minutes,'" Smith said. "It's not necessarily a military song, but it's about friends of mine that are in the military and it's about my Grand dad who flew B-24s in World War II.
"It's a little personal song and it really means a lot to me, but I like to share it with the Soldiers," he said.
As Smith and his band rocked the night away, many Soldiers took the chance to hear new music, sing along with some classics and two-step in front of the stage, letting loose before heading off to bed or back to work.
Spc. Jason McMunn, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 3rd BCT, was one of those dancers.
"One of my coworkers asked me if I knew how to two-step," said McMunn about dancing in front of a packed stage. "I said 'yeah,' so I snagged her up and we went out there to dance. It was fun but a little hard to do in these boots."
But for McMunn, dancing was just what the doctor ordered.
"It brought back some good memories [from being at home]," he said. "It was a lot of fun; I enjoyed the [heck] out of it."
Both Spc. Sarah and Angela Andrews, HHC and Company E, 215th Brigade Support Battalion, also enjoyed the chance to hear "some good music."
"I thought the show was really good," Angela said. "I really enjoyed the fast-paced songs - things that you can dance to, those were nice."
"And the morale boost - that was the best thing about this show, morale going up," added Sarah. "The excitement about the show and being here to hear it, it's a good thing for everyone."
"It's great to see so many people come out for country music," added McMunn. "This has boosted my morale. It was just nice to let loose for a night.
"It is great to see these guys [in the band] come out and show their support to us," he said. "If I see their albums in a music store, I will pick them up."
As the night drew to a close, Smith signed autographs and handed out copies of his latest CD. He also had a few Soldiers sign his guitar he was playing while on stage.
"I'm getting the guys who have taken us around and showed us their FOBs to sign my guitar in hopes that when we're finished with the shows, the guitar will be full of signatures and will go on display at the George Bush Library at College Station, Texas," he said.
Smith had completed his mission for the night - given the elated Soldiers of Grey Wolf a piece of home and let them have some fun. But before he left for his next gig, Smith wanted to let the Soldiers know the pleasure was all his.
"I support the troops 100 percent, no matter what you do," he said. "I will do this for the rest of my life; I will go to wherever [the Soldiers] are.
"I want to go to the small places, the places that no one else goes to that gets mortared everyday - I don't care," Smith concluded. "I will find you guys and bring that little piece of home to you."