SAN ANTONIO, Texas (Apr. 24, 2012) -- Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III and Mrs. Chandler attended the 2012 U.S. Army Soldier Show "Army Strong" on its opening this weekend at Fort Sam Houston.

Lt. Gen. Mike Ferriter, commander, U.S. Army Installation Management Command, invited top leaders including command staff and noncommissioned officers all around Joint Base San Antonio to enjoy the Army's entertainment variety show performed "by the Soldier, for the Soldier."

Chandler was in San Antonio for a meeting with his Sergeant Major of the Army Board of Directors.

"I've seen a whole bunch of Army Soldier Shows in my career, and this is without a doubt the best Soldier Show I've seen," said Chandler in an interview after the performance. "Just a positive, uplifting performance by a bunch of kids doing an absolutely amazing job."

The 90-minute song-and-dance production was designed to demonstrate "Army Strong" where each moment in the show will reflect the strength of our nation as embodied in the Soldier.

"This show says that the strength of the nation is the Army, and strength of the Army is the Soldier and the strength of the Soldier is our families," said Chandler. "That's what makes us Army Strong. We are the best of the best and we will continue to be in the future."

The opening weekend included three evening performances, plus a Sunday afternoon VIP matinee that included community leaders and served as a kick-off of post activities in support of San Antonio's annual Fiesta community celebration. Afterward, the audience was invited to meet the cast and crew outside the theater and share the warm feelings generated during the show.

"Oh my gosh, it was absolutely amazing," said Lynn Tower, San Antonio resident. "These people are serving our country to the best of their ability and then they're sharing their talents with us. It was inspiring."

"This show far exceeded my expectations, each time I've seen it, the performers are better and better. The singing and dancing, the sparkle in their eye and the way they relate to the crowd is just fantastic," said Ferriter. "We had a great audience, young Soldiers here in their advanced training, members of Fort Sam Houston and Joint Base San Antonio, and all of them seem to connect with the Soldier Show. When it comes to a town near you, you've got to see it."

"I thought the show was wonderful," said Rene Rodriguez, Jr., IMCOM civilian and native San Antonian. "I think the performers were excellent and they performed outstanding as they have every single year. I've seen every single show that the Army has put on and this is right up above."

"It's a great show. It's got great energy and it's delivering the Army message," said Tim Higdon, production manager and producer for the show. "It's a great way to highlight our Soldiers and show their strengths not only as Soldiers but with the talents they have as people and individuals."

The troops now hit the road on a five-month tour to perform at least 60 shows in at least 31 venues, including Hawaii and Japan. The month of May will be busy with performances at Forts Rucker, Stewart, Bragg, Eustis, Story, Myer, Hamilton and Drum. A full schedule is listed on, along with other Army Entertainment events this season.

"This is the most polished and prepared cast that we've had ever since we've been doing this," said Higdon. "We're really proud of their efforts that they've put in and their dedication to it. They are absolutely ready and excited to get out there on the road and start spreading the word."

"It was my first time to see the Soldier Show. It was an amazing show. It was very touching, it showed a deeper side of the military and showed that the Soldiers are really talented," said Michelle Spencer, Miss San Antonio 2012. "My favorite song was Etta James 'At Last.' It was so romantic and showed the sweet side of the military. I didn't know how tough it was to be away from their family, this shows the emotional side. It was really touching."

The openings were staged at the newly renovated historic Fort Sam Houston Theatre, new home of Army Entertainment Division, part of the Installation Management Command. When IMCOM's Army Entertainment Division relocated in 2011 from Fort Belvoir, Va., to Fort Sam Houston as part of the Army's Base Realignment and Closure process, the Army renovated its second-oldest movie theater, built in the 1930s.

It takes a lot of hard work by the Soldiers who perform or work back stage to make this show a success.

"Thanks for all that you do. We are really proud of each and every one of you in what you do inside the Installation Management Command, and throughout the Army, said Chandler. "Just an amazing group of folks, highly talented. I am honored to serve with you."