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Country star plays Camp Victory club for 3rd troops

POSTED: June 9, 2007 5:02 a.m.
CAMP VICTORY, Iraq - The atmosphere outside the Sports Oasis dining hall was like sold-out concert Tuesday night as troops and civilians packed the parking lot. Triple-digit temperatures and threats of indirect fire didn’t keep hundreds of country music fans and spectators from venturing out to see one of country music’s biggest stars.
Award-winning country music artist Toby Keith made his way to Camp Victory, courtesy of the USO and MWR. Keith is no stranger to Iraq. He and his band set aside 17 days every spring to entertain troops serving in the Middle East.
For Keith, performing for deployed troops has become a tradition.
“Every plane we get on, we buckle a box down in the middle and we play spades while keeping score on a tour book, then we keep the books as souvenirs,” Keith said. “We have kind of a brotherhood thing going. We’re setting some traditions that we really look forward to each year.”
More than that, Keith said performing is one way of thanking the troops.
“My way of serving my country is for me to come over here and support the troops.”
Keith gave back as he took the stage with his hit, “Get Drunk and Be Somebody” and others including, “As Good as I Once Was,” which he jokingly dedicated to senior officers.
For Spc. Joseph Crabtree, light-wheel vehicle mechanic, 318th Psychological Operation Battalion, this was his first time seeing Keith live.
“His concert was great. I love all his music,” Crabtree said.
Longtime fan Spc. Dawn Kertz saw Keith perform at Camp Victory in 2005. The product approval specialist with Task Force 10 said she loves that he supports the troops.
“He’s very patriotic and that’s what I love,” Kertz said. “He stands behind us even when (others do not).”
Keith said he got his patriotic roots from his father, who lost his right eye while serving in the Army during the 1950s. His father flew the American flag 365 days a year, and although he seldom let anyone else in their house, he always invited people who were soliciting on behalf of organizations that supported veterans.
“Everybody who wears the uniform is a warrior for me,” Keith said.
“I’m here to support America and I’m here to support the armed forces,” Keith said. “Politically, I’m not educated enough on the issues to know why we came here (to Iraq), but it doesn’t matter to me. I go wherever American military families and troops are to try and give something back to them.”
Immediately after closing out the concert with “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue,” Keith repeatedly saluted the troops.
“From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank every one of you for my freedom and for putting your life on the line for me,” Keith said. “American troops should never have to think for one second America as a whole is not behind them.”

Bigenho is a writer for the 28th Public Affairs Detachment
 

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