Alyssa Milano and the late Brittany Murphy show a soldier some love in 2003. (USO Photo by Mike Theiler)
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PHOTOS: The 10th Anniversary of 'USO Project Salute 2003'

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

As America marks the 10th anniversary of Operation Iraqi Freedom, we look back to recognize the generosity of time and spirit that talented celebrities dedicated to our nation’s troops as part of USO Project Salute 2003.

The tour was the first after the beginning of the engagement and ran from June 15-21, 2003. The tour was broken into three groups and included musical performances, basketball clinics, a movie screening of “2 Fast 2 Furious” and many meets-and-greets, all aimed at extending America’s gratitude for the troops’ commitment and sacrifice.

The list of entertainers who participated include: the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, Alyssa Milano, the late Brittany Murphy, Wayne Newton, Kid Rock, Paul Rodriguez, Rebecca Romijn, Gary Sinise, rapper Bubba Sparxxx, NFL running back Duce Staley, John Stamos, NFL linebacker Jason Taylor, Leeann Tweeden, Lee Ann Womack, Chely Wright and the rap group Nappy Roots. The NBA players included: Spencer Haywood, Troy Hudson, Ervin Johnson, Bob Lanier, Mark Madsen, Shawn Marion and Cherokee Parks.

The USO is eternally grateful for the contributions of our caring and patriotic entertainers who embody the USO mission of lifting the spirits of troops and their families with every tour they embark upon.


From left to right, legendary entertainer Wayne Newton, rock artist Kid Rock and the famous Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders salute our troops during one of their performances.


The troops return the love shown to them by the USO entertainers.

Gen. Tommy Franks would say later: "I'm honored to be here with all of you and I'm honored to be here with a group of people that care about you as much as I do."


From left to right, country music singer Chely Wright, actor and singer Gary Sinise and actress Rebecca Romijn pose on the tarmac. From 2003-2011, the USO sent more than 120 USO entertainment tours to Iraq.


The late actress Brittany Murphy provides some ink for a troop.

"It's absolutely incredible to be here," Murphy said. "Every facet of the military gives me the opportunity to be who I am. They fight for that freedom and I just want to thank every one of you."


Murphy, right, and actress Alyssa Milano put the squeeze on one soldier. In total, from 2003 to 2011, the USO helped to lift the spirits for more than 402,300 servicemen and women stationed in Iraq.

(Photos by Mike Theiler – USO / Written and Produced by Christian Pelusi) 

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