AL ASAD, Iraq -- For most deployed service members music is an important tool that helps them through the day; they play songs to motivate them when they need inspiration or to remind them of loved ones when they are feeling sad or lonely.
In an effort to boost morale through music, Armed Forces Entertainment recently hosted a live concert here March 24.
Country music singers Kevin Fowler and Charlie Robison brought sentiments of appreciation from home and a taste of Texas style honky-tonk to service members here.
Charlie Robison kicked off the performance with his hits “Barlight,”
“My Hometown,” and “Rosie.” Kevin Fowler performed “100% Texan” and “Speak of the Devil.”
The country music drew out fans like Cpl. Michael J. Souza, a Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 29 generator mechanic, from the Lone Star State who showed their pride by holding up their state flag during the song “My Hometown.”
“It’s a Texan thing, I’ve taken that flag all over the world with me,” said Souza, a Waxahachie, Texas, native. “I always love a Texas country show, no matter where in the world it is.”
Before arriving at Al Asad, the musicians performed in Kuwait, Bagdad, and Kirkuk. The country music singers performed songs to remind the troops of home.
“My favorite songs were ‘My Hometown,’ by Charlie Robison, because it’s something to relate to over here and ‘100% Texan,’ by Kevin because that’s a Texan’s anthem,” said Souza.
During their visit, Fowler and Robison also spent time visiting patients at the hospital and service members at ground units.
“I don’t think there’s been anything on this tour that hasn’t been memorable,” said Robison, a Bandera, Texas, native. “I was definitely expecting this to be a life changing experience. We’re getting entertained more than we are entertaining. Everyone’s been so hospitable. When I go home, I won’t even know where to start telling people about what we did over here.”
Armed Forces Entertainment, who sponsored Fowler and Robison’s tour, is the Department of Defense’s official agency for bringing entertainment to deployed and overseas service members. The agency has brought musicians, athletes, and comedians to service members since World War II.
Fowler and Robison, who spent several months working with AFE to organize the tour, have their own motivations for performing for the troops.
“We came over here to give something back,” said Fowler, an Austin, Texas native. “Whether you are for the war or against the war, you have to support the troops. Their lives are on hold. They are giving away the younger years of their lives while we are out partying. Service members are over here as 17, 18, 19 year-olds fighting a war. When I was that age, I couldn’t hold down a job.”
Robison agrees that the troops should not be forgotten. “It’s easy for people back home to do something like send a letter or care package to our deployed troops and make their day,” said Robison.