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Comedian 'Nephew Tommy' Miles Follows USO Lead to Support Troops in Several Ways

Thursday, December 19, 2013

By Christian Pelusi  

When Thomas Miles, affectionately known as “Nephew Tommy” from “The Steve Harvey Morning Show,” learned he would be going on a USO Entertainment tour to visit troops deployed to Southwest Asia in 2011, he knew he’d be counted on to bring some laughs to the frontlines. Little did he know that he’d have some help from an unlikely source: Gen. Martin Dempsey.

“Great personality, down to earth guy,” Miles said when describing the current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “Most of the time when you see somebody with that kind of power on his shoulders, you kind of don’t even know how to talk to people like that. What kind of conversation are you supposed to strike up? You really don’t even know how to make an approach. But he approaches you. And he’s so down to earth that [you think] ‘Hey, I like him.’

“Because when you’re in a situation like this, you’re like, ‘That’s the big guy. We’d better just stay in our place and stay away from the big guy and do what you’re supposed to do.’ [But] he’s this guy that keeps coming around, talking to you, making sure you’re having a good time, making sure you’re all right. He makes you feel welcome, to the point that you want to be around. You want to want to have a conversation with him. You want to talk to him. He’s just a cool cat.”

So cool in fact that when given the chance to take part in the shows, the general steps right up.

“What I like about him is, I think he is Irish, if I’m not mistaken. And he has his Irish song that he sings,” Miles said, laughing. “I hope this time around … he [doesn’t] sing at every one of the shows that we did as we were touring, but I hope he sings at every one of them because let me tell you, it’s in him, he’s loves it and you can see how passionate he is about it. And I love it.

“Just a cool guy, a really, really great guy and I like the fact that he likes to be a part of what’s going on and he participates and when he’s moving around the world, often times, we’re visiting different hospitals and military bases, you can rest assured that he’s not up in his room this guy’s up and moving around and doing more work than we are. He’s dedicated.”

The commitment of both Dempsey and the USO (which Miles described as “the ultimate caretakers of everyone in the military”) that Miles witnessed during the 2011 tour had a profound effect on him, spurring him to start his own non-profit organization, Miles of Giving. 

“I enjoyed [the trip] so much,” he said. “It triggered something in me, man. I went, I fell in love with the troops and the next thing you know, I said, ‘This is going to be where I start my foundation.’ I came back and created ‘Miles of Giving’ and we give back to wounded veterans.”

With his participation in USO tours like the recent Chairman’s Holiday Tour, Miles says he appreciates the perspective he gains when he gives back to active military members.

“To sit with them and get to know them, where they’re from, who they have back at home, the whole nine yards and you just get a whole new respect for the people that go out and protect us,” he said. “I think sometimes we take it for granted because we can’t see it, but to go over and see it I’m like ‘Wow, this is the front line.’ They are policing and taking care of everything.”

And the response from troops entertainers like Miles enjoy shows that it truly is better to give than receive, especially over the holidays.

“For us to bring home entertainment there to them, it puts a smile on their face,” he said. “It takes them away from where they are in that moment, they’re so appreciative. They want it … and basically show them that we care. Show them that they matter. So to go over there and give it to them and they enjoy a good show, from some comedy to some singing to some recognizable faces that they’ve seen from television to sports figures, I think it’s good. It just lets them know that … ‘America’s got our back.’”

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Want a taste of Gen. Dempsey's singing prowess? Watch as he takes the stage with the Robertsons to sing a fresh, new classic holiday tune from the "Duck Dynasty" fellas called "Hairy Christmas" while on tour this month. (Video is courtesy of Staff Sgt. Mike Lahrman/DVIDS)  


 Photo captions: Top, Miles brings humor and laughter to hundreds of troops stationed at Bagram Air Base. Bottom, Jordin Sparks and Thomas “Nephew Tommy” Miles brightens up the spirits of medical staff worker Lt. Col. Seagel at Kandahar Role 3 Hospital in Afghanistan in 2011. (USO photos by Dave Gatley)    


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