For more than four hours, Camp Buehring, in the middle of the Kuwaiti desert, became a hard-rocking outdoor amphitheater.
Before the music began, about 5,000 servicemembers heard a message of support and appreciation from President Bush. Both Lt. Gen. James J. Lovelace, commander of U.S. Army Central and Combined Forces Land Component Command, and his deputy, Maj. Gen. Dennis E. Hardy, visited with the performers and thanked them for their support.
Then, before comedian Carlos Mencia got the troops laughing, he gave them some words of thanks.
"You guys work every single day doing a job that other people would never even dream of doing," he said. "You do it proudly, and you do it with a smile, and I salute all of you."
Mencia's job was to keep the troops in stitches between music sets by Disturbed, Filter, the Pussycat Dolls, and actress/singer Jessica Simpson, a job at which he more than succeeded.
Then it was DJ Z-Trip's turn to crank up the volume on some special mixes.
The troops' reactions to the rock groups were quite different from they way they reacted to Simpson and the Pussycat Dolls. The latter groups elicited shouts of appreciation, and even marriage proposals.
There was no doubt the troops were excited to have the entertainers come all the way out to Kuwait just to perform for them.
"Yeah, it's breaking my heart," Indiana Army National Guardsman Staff Sgt. Brad Thurman joked, adding that he's looking forward to seeing Disturbed. "We'll enjoy it. We weren't expected to be here, (but) they changed us going north (to Iraq)."
Air Force Tech Sgt. Marcus Waller, deployed from MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., expressed gratitude for the celebrities' appearance.
"I just want to give a big thanks to Carlos Mencia, the Pussycat Dolls and the various artists coming out in support of our troops," Waller said. "We really appreciate it. It's good to see faces, people thinking about us. As a whole, the U.S. military, we want to give you a big, 'Thanks.'"
The artists turned the tables, saying the visit and their interactions with the troops profoundly impacted them.
"This has been a life-changing experience for us," Nicole Scherzinger, lead singer of the Pussycat Dolls, said.
Simpson pointed out what the troops' service means to her. "What you guys represent is true sacrifice," she told the troops before singing her last number.
The other groups said they were honored to be performing for the troops and greatly impressed by the experience.
"We're coming over here to play rock music, and Frank's in the military, said Richard Patrick, lead vocalist for Filter. "Let's bridge the two worlds and let everybody know it's really one world."
"Frank" is Sgt. Frank Cavanagh, Filter's former bass player, who's now an Army reservist getting ready to deploy.
Disturbed's members were just happy to be able to take their support of the troops directly to the military members.
"We're happy that we finally have the opportunity to get out here and talk the talk ... and play for the troops and do what we said we've been meaning to do for the longest time. We're feeling really, really good about it," Disturbed's vocalist David Draiman said.
Z-Trip said he couldn't process all that was happening to him at Camp Buehring. "I'm probably going to be digesting this on the flight back," he said. "It'll probably all settle and make sense."
As the show concluded, all of the artists came to the stage to join Simpson in singing "God Bless America."
The concert, presented by MySpace, a social networking Web site, was streamed live on the MySpace site at 2 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. It was presented in cooperation with Armed Forces Entertainment, a group that brings entertainment programs to deployed forces, and the Defense Department's America Supports You program, which connects citizens and companies with servicemembers and their families worldwide.
By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
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