Bishkek Kyrgyzstan - Armed Forces Entertainment, the Department of Defense office in charge of helping to motivate our troops deployed around the world is no stranger to sending Americans to far off places.... on any given year they organize over 1,100 troop performances... from comedians to cheerleaders and other special guests.
From A list celebrities in Film, Music and Television to Comedians and Cheerleaders, Professional and Olympic Athletes... our Troops are meeting special guests nearly everyday of the year... somewhere in the World.
With a history of producing Troop Tours that spans decades, it's hard to imagine Armed Forces Entertainment reaching into a magical bag and pulling out a new group of Americans that has yet to be exposed to deployed service members, but that is exactly what they've done with the help of a small nonprofit today in the northern mountains of Kyrgyzstan.
Instead of Cheerleaders and Comedians (tremendously popular with our troops) Veterans from the same unit were sent to meet, greet and spend time talking and sharing with today's hero warriors. Who are they?
The answer lies in this particular US Armed Forces units Motto - " RANGERS Lead The Way".
Not only are the Army RANGER war veterans all from the same overall unit, but they span 4+ decades of service, something that wasn't lost on behind the scenes organizers American300.
"Our goal is to present to Armed Forces Entertainment a series of tours that feature unique warriors from special units throughout the entire DoD" says Jesse Stewart, a combat decorated US Army Major and founder of American300 "My friend Jeff Struecker (US Army Major ret) helped us put these men together along with the Indiana National Guard, our only regret is that due to work conflicts Jeff couldn't join Robi Powers and the RANGERS on this Tour."
From the jungle regions of Saigon to the sands of Somalia, US Army RANGERS Charlie Manis, Keni Thomas, Max Mullen and Danny McKnight have teamed up to share their own personal stories of duty, sacrifice and honor with today's warriors. They like all American300 Tour participants have come to Kyrgyzstan as volunteers to help the DoD raise resiliency... let our Troops, their Families, Friends and Employers know just how important our Troops are to the long term success and prosperity of America.
"We spent the day visiting small behind the scenes units and had a fantastic time... when we showed up at the group function tonight... and it was standing room only I knew we as a team of RANGER Veterans had found ourselves in the right place at the right time... it was time to Lead The Way! " said Danny McKnight (Col retired) "I can't wait to see who the 376th Air Expeditionary Wing matches us up with tomorrow."
"Every time we come here the 376th rolls out the red carpet and puts together an amazing program of troop interaction" said Powers, founder of American300 Warrior Tours "We had standing room only in the back tonight for a simple meet and greet... tomorrow we've got McKnight and Thomas providing narration to the motion picture film 'Black Hawk Down'... a depiction of the Battle of Mogadishu that both of them where a part of... I'm thinking we might have to do it in two seating's" he added with a smile as big as the towering 20,000 foot peaks that surround this base.
It was RANGER turned Country Music Star, Keni Thomas, half a world away from his home state of Tennessee who helped wrap up the get together by grabbing his guitar and singing from his heart while troops cheered from their seats... Many on their way home... many on their way into battle. "This is awesome... just wish these guys could have visited us while we were deployed downrange." said a 10th Mountain Division Staff Sargent, who is headed home in a few days after 11 months deployed in Afghanistan "We were in a small forward operating base the entire tour... didn't have any visitors- better late then never is what I say."
Better late the never...
It's never too late to say Thanks to a Service Member and their Family...
Thanks for following!
The Tour Continues....
For more information on the Department of Defense office Armed Forces Entertainment, please click HERE
For more information on the Tour please visit: www.AMERICAN300.org
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