USO Brings Gary Sinise and his Lt. Dan Band to Entertain 45th Space Wing
MELBOURNE FL: Actor Gary Sinise brought his 13-member Lt. Dan Band to the King Center in Melbourne on Friday to entertain service members from Patrick Air Force Base. Before the 7:30 PM show, Colonel Walter Jackim recapped the past several weeks: "We had air rescue crews helping people in Texas after Hurricane Harvey. We launched and landed the SpaceX Orbital Test Vehicle Mission. We dealt with Hurricane Irma's affects in Florida, and we've been monitoring the nuclear detonations in North Korea. The saying is "Work Hard, Play Harder" and I can think of no one better to help us play harder than Gary Sinise".
Sinise, playing Bass Guitar then launched into a 2-hour show for a sold-out crowd at the King Center. While the show focused on rock and roll, the band slipped in the 1940's Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy and some country songs. Sinise explained: "It is a fun show. It is a variety show. It is a big band, so we can play a wide variety of tunes."
The show was sponsored by the USO. Sinise and his band perform for military audiences around the world. Sinise: "I've been appearing for the military for many years now, and we are still at war. These families deserve our support. It's moving and humbling and inspiring to me to be able to go out and to see their resilience. I get a lot from that."
Sinise was nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of Lt. Dan Taylor in the 1994 movie, Forest Gump. In the movie, Lt. Dan loses both legs in a combat accident during the Vietnam War. Shortly after the film's release, Sinise was asked to appear at a convention for over two-thousand members of the Disable American Veterans. "After 9/11, I began volunteering for more military-related events. I had done some hand-shake tours with the USO - meeting the troops, posing for pictures". Sinise approached the USO in 2003 to ask if he could put together the band in the spirit of Bob Hope and all the other entertainers who would be put on shows for the troops.
"We've been playing together since 2003. That's when I put the band together and started doing tours for the USO. Playing on bases overseas and at home. It was during the height of the Iraq War and the most difficult and challenging times there. It was very dangerous and families were enduring these long deployments. People were getting hurt and it was tough on these families. Initially, I was going overseas, but then in 2004 I picked up the television series CSI New York. I was working all the time and it was hard to go overseas during that period of time. That's when we started this series of domestic shows. I was working all the time and could not go overseas on the weekends, but I could fly out Friday and do a couple of shows for bases around the country. In many cases, those bases had thousands deployed - so the families were there and going through a lot. To have some entertainment come out, put on a show, and let them know that we are thinking about them - I think that made a difference. I've been doing the shows ever since. I have a great, long relationship with the USO. I still have a great relationship with the USO. I am blessed to have been a part of their organization for all of these years."
After the concert, Colonel Jackim presented the band with some mementos from Patrick Air Force base.
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