Joins Military In Celebrating Completion Of Osama Bin Laden Mission
NORMAN, Okla.) Nothing singer, songwriter and entertainer Toby Keith does in a year is more important to him than his show of support to the men and women serving in the armed forces. In what has become an annual rite of spring for the mega-platinum performer, Keith just wrapped his ninth USO Tour and has returned stateside.
For Toby, showing support is a front-line, hands-on and personal journey to offer encouragement to soldiers, sailors and airmen deployed in the world's most conflicted regions. On this 12-day expedition, Keith and his band traveled roughly 20,000 miles and, amazingly, Keith signed and presented almost 6,000 USO/Toby Keith photos. That's in addition to the personal photos, guitars and other effects he signed.
During the trek, he had the privilege of being in the company of thousands of military professionals – many of whom were motivated to serve by the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks – as the mission to bring Osama Bin Laden to justice was accomplished. Of course, Keith's "Courtesy Of The Red, White And Blue (The Angry American)" is arguable the cultural response most readily identified with the 9/11 attacks and America's desire that justice be served.
"It's a great day to be an American," Toby said Monday (5/2). "I've been telling you for a decade that the U.S. military would hunt down and kill world enemy No. 1. While traveling abroad I am blown away by the positive coverage by the world media. There is a consensus in the world media I have never seen before. Thanks to our commander in chief for having cojones to finish this job, but the mission is far from over."
Toby, band and crew flew out of Bahrain on a U.S. Navy C-2A Greyhound 20-passenger turboprop and landed on the USS Enterprise off the coast of Iran. The plane decelerated from 138 MPH to a stop in 2.5 seconds during the tail hook landing. Upon leaving, the catapult rocketed the plane from zero to 160 MPH in under three seconds.
Toby Keith was tasked with being a catapult "shooter" for an F-18 launch on the deck of the Enterprise. Keith signaled the "okay" to fire the catapult, sending the fighter jet into the sky.
At Camp Liberty near Baghdad, Keith and crew had to take cover as an insurgent missile struck the base roughly a third-of-a-mile from the stage where they were about to perform. At another forward operating base, Toby tweeted, "4 mortars hit close as I was about to take stage last night – we had to hunker in a bunker til all clear."
The tour included stops at 11 different installations in Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq and two ships at sea, the USS Enterprise aircraft carrier and the guided missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf. Throughout, Keith saw approximately 18,000 service members.
The reaction, both in-theater and stateside, was tremendous:
"I was there, thank you for still going on the with the show," one tweeter noted. "It was amazing how you brightened our night. Thank you for all the support to the military. And it was awesome to see you sport the Big Red One patch!"
Another wrote, "My husband was in the crowd last night where you were. Thank for giving them something to look forward to, what you experienced is their every day life pretty much … I'm glad that you are all ok."
Photos, in-theater tweets, reaction from attendees and more can be found on Keith's Twitter page at www.twitter.com/tobykeithmusic and on his Facebook Fan Page at www.facebook.com/tobykeith.