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PHOTOS: Gen. Dempsey, Celebs Bring Glad Tidings to Deployed Troops

Monday, December 17, 2012

UPDATED: 12/19/12 

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey recently wrapped up the first leg of the annual USO holiday tour with a little help from his new friends.

Keeping Gen. Dempsey company on the tour are: Washington Capitals forward Matt Hendricks; Washington Nationals pitchers Ross Detwiler and Craig Stammen; country music star and USO Entertainment veteran Kellie Pickler and comedian Iliza Shlesinger. The crew is bringing smiles, laughter and some holiday cheer to servicemen and women stationed in the Middle East. (See more images on our Flickr set.)


Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey talks with Iliza Shlesinger while flying to Kandahar Air Base in Afghanistan on Dec. 16.

"Leading this USO tour overseas during one of the most difficult times of the year has been one of the many highlights of my trip," Gen. Dempsey said.


Country music sensation Kellie Pickler takes her cues from some servicewomen as she performs a USO show for troops on Dec. 14.


From left to right, Washington Nationals pitchers Ross Detwiler, Washington Capitals forward Matt Hendricks, singer Kellie Pickler and Craig Stammen visit with Spc. Storm Aguilar at the Bagram Air Base hospital in Afghanistan on Dec. 15.


Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey addresses sailors stationed aboard the USS John C. Stennis as part of his second annual USO holiday tour on Dec. 13.

Gen. Dempsey said: "All of the stars with me, whom I consider my friends, have been nothing short of delightful. It is clear they genuinely care and support our nation’s troops and that our men and women in uniform are grateful for their visit. The holidays are a time of sharing and we accomplished that with this trip."


Hundreds of sailors laugh and cheer as comedian Iliza Shlesinger performs a stand up routine for them aboard the USS John C. Stennis. This is Shlesinger's first USO tour.

"When I think about what the soldiers do and what I do, it's so similar," Shlesinger said prior to the tour. "They risk their lives every day to ensure our freedom and I work for two hours a week telling wiener jokes. Okay, so we're nothing alike. Makes it that much easier to respect what they do so wholeheartedly.”


Washington Capitals forward Matt Hendricks talks with troops.

Hendricks said: "Participating in the USO holiday tour with Gen. Dempsey has been an incredible experience so far. I am truly honored to have been in the presence of such brave men and women as the one's we have visited. It has really hit home for me to see the work that the USO does for these service members, how much it means to them and their morale, especially during this holiday time when they are far from home. It's so exciting to be a part of such an amazing mission."


Washington Nationals pitchers Craig Stammen, left, and Ross Detwiler pose for a photo with servicemen.

Stammen said: "It has been such an honor to participate in this USO holiday tour with Gen. Dempsey. This is definitely a once in a lifetime experience. I really appreciate the opportunity to personally thank so many service members for everything they do and let them know how much we support them back home."


Nationals pitcher Ross Detwiler poses in front of a landing aircraft aboard the USS John C. Stennis.

"For me, the most unforgettable part of this trip has been showing my appreciation to the service members who enable us to lead the lives that we do while they’re out fighting for our freedom," Detwiler said. "I feel truly blessed to get the chance to meet so many brave men and women as part of this USO holiday tour with the Chairman."


From left to right, Sgt. Maj. Bryan Battaglia, Stammen, Shlesinger, Detwiler, Hendricks, Kellie Pickler, and Gen. Dempsey, pose for a photo onstage after a performance aboard the USS John C. Stennis.

Pickler said: "It brings me joy to be overseas with our service men and women during the holidays, and like all of my past USO tours, this year’s trip has been amazing and I am grateful to be a part of it."

See more images from the tour on our Flickr set. 

(Photos by Fred Greaves – USO / Produced by Christian Pelusi) 

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