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2014 Spirit of the USO Award
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USO, ACM Surprise Toby Keith With Award

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

USO Staff  

The Academy of Country Music’s live “ACM Presents: An All-Star Salute to the Troops” show played out as one might expect. Country musicians—including Toby Keith—performed for an audience of troops and their families. Some troops even got in on the act, performing on stage with the celebrities. But that was where the beaten path took a turn that led to the USO and ACM honoring Keith for his ardent support of our troops and their families.

“NCIS: Los Angeles” co-stars LL Cool J and Chris O’Donnell introduced Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh and Brig. Gen. (Ret.) John I. Pray, Jr., USO President and CEO, who presented Keith with the Spirit of the USO Award.

“There is one individual the USO and ACM would like to honor tonight,” Pray said. “Since his first USO tour in 2002, Toby has performed nearly 300 shows for military audiences and lifted the spirits of over 250,000 men and women in uniform and their families. Toby’s 11 USO tours have taken him to 15 countries and, yes, four ships at sea.

“On behalf of the USO, the Academy of Country Music and Americans everywhere, I am proud to present The Spirit of the USO Award to Toby Keith.”

The country star’s response was humble and humorous. “That caught me off guard. I saw a need and a void the great Bob Hope left behind, and no one was filling it, but as hard as Big Dog Daddy tried, I couldn’t bring Marilyn Monroe.”

The show is scheduled to air May 20 at 8 p.m. on CBS.

Photo caption: Actors Chris O'Donnell (L) LL Cool J (2nd L) and recording artist Toby Keith (R) speaks onstage with members of the armed forces during ACM Presents: An All-Star Salute To The Troops at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 7, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/ACMA2014/Getty Images for ACM)  

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