Thursday, October 06, 2005

America Supports You: Charlie Daniels Wows Troops in Tribute

WASHINGTON, Oct. 5, 2005 – The devil may have gone down to Georgia, but the Charlie Daniels Band went to the Association of the U.S. Army convention here Oct. 4 to pay a musical tribute to the troops and thank them for their service.

Daniels, a rock-solid supporter of the U.S. military who's been entertaining troops around the world for some 35 years, dazzled a foot-stomping, hand-clapping crowd in a jam-packed ballroom at a reception hosted by U.S. Army Europe.

Army Gen. B.B. Bell, USAREUR and 7th Army commander, said he invited Daniels to the event after the legendary performer fiddled his way into the hearts of U.S. troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Those visits, as well as the Oct. 4 performance, were part of the "Stars for Stripes" program, which brings top entertainment to U.S. troops, particularly those serving in remote locations not typically visited by United Service Organizations tours.

"He went to the most difficult and dangerous places" in the U.S. Central Command area of operations and entertained deployed military members without accepting a penny for his services, Bell said of Daniels and his band during an interview with the American Forces Press Service.

"He gives of himself selflessly," Bell said. "He's got all the qualities of a great soldier."
As a tribute to Bell, a Tennessee native, Daniels played a rousing rendition of "Rocky Top," then slowed the action down with a solemn delivery of "Amazing Grace," encouraging those in the crowd to sing along.

Among those who joined in was Army Command Sgt. Maj. Ralph Beam, 5th Corps' senior enlisted soldier, who remembers hearing Daniels play at the first concert Beam ever attended, at age 13.

"He's a real patriot," Beam said of Daniels. "He's so approachable and so personal."


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