By Jennifer Lindquist, the CannoneerNovember 20, 2007
While most deployed Soldiers have encouragement e-mailed to them from friends and family, Staff Sgt. Marcus Randolph, 1st Battalion, 78th Field Artillery, had his from a more famous source in country music icon Reba McIntyre. Twenty years ago, Randolph was flipping channels and saw the Reba McEntire video "Last One To Know." He has been a Reba fan ever since. During deployment, McEntire e-mailed him and thanked him for his service and asked how he was doing, Randolph recalls. "When we lost one of our lieutenants, Reba e-mailed me and asked me if she could get his family\'s address so she could write them a personal letter. When I got back from Iraq, his wife came up to me and said she got a nice letter from Reba," said Randolph. Randolph, a proud card carrying member of the Reba McEntire fan club, was one of the Soldiers chosen to stand on stage while Toby Keith sang "American Soldier" for the Oklahoma Centennial Spectacular Concert, Nov. 16. "After 1st Sergeant put me on the detail for Toby Keith, I got an email from Reba's office telling me that Reba and Susie (Reba's sister) wanted to invite me to be their guest backstage after the show. Then, a few days later they called me and confirmed the details on what I needed and how many passes I needed. They also told me that Reba was really looking forward to meeting me," said Randolph. He had met with her before, but in a room of 100 people. Getting to see her with only three other people was more memorable, Randolph states. "I wanted to thank her for supporting Soldiers the way she does and let her know it meant a lot to receive an e-mail in Iraq and have her write a letter to a Soldier's wife. It made me proud to be a Reba fan," Randolph said. After Toby Keith's performance, Randolph and his friend, Sgt. Steven Wilson, 429th Field Artillery, waited in a holding room to meet McEntire. As people trickled down the hall, Randolph let out a gasp and pointed to an older lady, "That's Reba's mom!" he yelled to Wilson. Each member of McEntire's family received a similar reaction, until McEntire herself entered the room. She gave him a huge hug and Randolph instantly relaxed, presented the women of McEntire's family with military coins he had made and asked McEntire to sign autographs for himself and one of his friends who is currently deployed. McEntire expressed concern for the currently deployed Soldier and thanked both Randolph and Wilson for their service in Iraq. After the autographs were signed and the pictures taken, McEntire was whisked away by her tour manager to meet with other fans. Randolph was speechless after his encounter, "I can't even talk right now, she is very down to earth and really truly cares about the Soldiers. The whole family, not just Reba, is in support of the Soldiers. I felt so at home with her."