By Elaine Wilson, Fort Sam Houston Public AffairsNovember 21, 2006
SAN ANTONIO, Texas (Army News Service, Nov. 21, 2006) - Country music superstar Toby Keith rocked the stage, and a few Soldiers' world, at a private concert Sunday for 14,000 Texas Ford truck owners and about 500 servicemembers at the AT&T Center in downtown San Antonio.
The military invite was courtesy of Ford Motor Company and Texas Ford Dealers, sponsors of the free concert, "Toby Keith's Hookin' Up and Hangin' Out Tour."
"We do that everywhere we go," said Keith, referring to the military "hook up." "If there are tickets available, we try to make sure the military is taken care of."
Along with the tickets, a handful of wounded warriors and Soldiers from Fort Sam Houston were invited to a private "meet and greet" backstage where they exchanged a few words and posed for a picture with the multi-platinum singer-songwriter.
"It's pretty cool," said wounded warrior Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Cerniglia, while waiting to meet Keith. "He's probably one of the biggest public supporters of the military. We appreciate him letting the Soldiers participate."
"He's been a great supporter of the military and spends a lot of time overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan," said Sgt. 1st Class Greg Stube, who was wounded in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. "I've always been a fan."
Spc. Cara Richie, from Brooke Army Medical Center, said she wanted to ask the singer for a hug. "I'm excited about meeting him," she said.
Command Sgt. Maj. Craig Layton, of Brooke Army Medical Center, had high praise for the singer, whom he was meeting with for the third time. "I escorted him in Kosovo and Landstuhl (Germany)," said Layton, who brought along a military coin for Keith. "I think this is great for the Soldiers."
Keith greeted Layton like an old friend and told him the framed picture the command sergeant major had given him as a token of appreciation from his unit overseas was hanging on his wall.
"Thank you for your service," he told Layton, as he told each servicemember he met.
During the boot-scootin' concert, a few lucky military fans made their way onstage to dance. "It was a lot of fun, especially going on the stage and dancing," said Spc. Cassandra Buzian, from the Army Medical Department Center and School at Fort Sam Houston. "The ending was awesome. He ended with 'American Soldier' and 'Red, White and Blue.' I had a great time."
Keith's outspoken support of the military reached a pinnacle with the chart-topping "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)," a song that became a rallying call for many Americans after Sept. 11, 2001. His support has also led him on 60-plus United Services Organization shows in Iraq, Afghanistan and Germany.
"They (military members) thank me for what I do; I thank them for what they do," Keith said. "I'm proud of their service."