By Operation Tribute to FreedomSeptember 14, 2006
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Sept. 13, 2006) - After more than a year in Iraq, Sgt. 1st Class Peter Moran was ready to get back to his family and friends. Little did he know his return festivities would include Christina Aguilera and the Good Morning America crew.Moran was one of 80 Soldiers who were recognized and welcomed home during Good Morning America's summer concert series June through August.The concerts were coordinated through Operation Tribute to Freedom, an Army community relations program designed to connect Soldiers coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan with the American public."The concert series has been an extraordinary opportunity to recognize and thank our returning Soldiers," said Col. Garrie Dornan, director of Army Public Affairs's Community Relations Division. "The producers for Good Morning America have truly committed to making this a special opportunity for our troops and their families."Soldiers who served in operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom were hosted as honored guests and treated to performances by artists including Prince, Christina Aguilera and Carrie Underwood."We had a great time," said Moran, of the Army Reserve's 80th Division (Institutional Training). "Not only was it terrific to go to with my daughter, but it was also great to be appreciated for the time and sacrifice that Soldiers make serving in Iraq and other countries."Moran attended the Aug. 18 show featuring pop singer Christina Aguilera two weeks after returning home."I can only hope opportunities like the Good Morning America show will be offered to other returning Soldiers. Events like this one help with the adjustment back to your real life," said Moran.Capt. Joan Davis and Soldiers with the 344th Combat Support Hospital of Fort Totten in Queens, New York, attended the June 30 concert featuring the Pussycat Dolls. Lead singer Nicole Scherzinger personally dedicated the group's song "Stickwitu" to the unit and to all those still serving in Iraq and Afghanistan."We truly had a pleasant day at the concert. The Pussycat Dolls acknowledged us every time they came out on stage," said Davis. "It was quite touching. I also think it helped to be recognized after being gone for so long."A group of 18 Soldiers from the 80th Div. caravanned from Richmond, Va., to the Aug. 11 show, where country singer and USO supporter Carrie Underwood thanked the Soldiers before singing her hit "Don't Forget to Remember Me" as a tribute.Good Morning America has extended the invitation to honor Soldiers at some of their upcoming fall concert events. Last Friday, the show hosted ten Soldiers during a special performance by R&B artist BeyoncAffA,A."We were thrilled to have the Operation Tribute to Freedom members in Bryant Park, joining us for this year's summer concert series. We hope to see them again next year," said Bridgette Maney, a Good Morning America spokeswoman.OTF continues to identify unique opportunities to welcome Soldiers home from Iraq and Afghanistan. The program is currently conducting 40 "Welcome Back to School" recognition events at college and university football games across the country.Soldiers who have served in operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom or Noble Eagle are eligible to participate in OTF's speaking and recognition programs. Interested Soldiers can contact the program at email@example.com or visit www.army.mil/otf for more information.