Crime Novelist Connelly Draws Inspiraton From Troops During USO Tour
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
By Christian Pelusi
Ironically, for bestselling crime novelist Michael Connelly, it didn’t take a detective to deduce how much deployed troops enjoy visits from USO entertainers.
“I could just tell repeatedly, multiple times, I came across people who are on base, far away from home, who are just very appreciative of the hand that’s reached out to them to say ‘Thank you,’” Connelly said during a recent phone interview to discuss the Operation Thriller III USO Entertainment tour that he took with other authors last month. “It really meant a lot that I was, in this case, the embodiment of the USO. … I went over there to do this, to express the thanks of a nation, but it seems like I got out of it more than I gave. Just the experience of talking to these people, so far from home, very proud and professional in doing their work. Their particular job, whether it was small or big in the overall scheme of things, was fantastic. And inspirational.”
And Connelly’s use of the word “inspirational” is high praise for an award-winning writer who creates characters that exude that trait. Connelly compared the qualities that the servicemen and women displayed to that of his popular detective protagonists.
“I write about quiet heroes, people who, in my case, detectives, who do their work against difficult circumstances, high stakes. Everything that I can attribute to what I write about … I can ascribe to the people that I saw on the bases … in the Middle East.”
For Connelly, a first-time USO entertainer, witnessing what the USO offers for deployed troops was both educational and rewarding.
“The USO centers, where they have everything from telephones to video games to libraries, were really the center for off-duty activity, for sure. I had always equated the USO with the travelling shows, from Bob Hope to the cheerleaders and things like that, I didn’t know that there was a permanent, ongoing or full-time service at all of these bases, which is pretty remarkable.
“And heavily used, that’s for sure. Some of these bases, out in the desert, in the middle of nowhere. Where it’s probably not safe or conducive to leave the base, what the USO provides is what they get. And it’s a pretty good variety.”
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Photo caption: Far right, Michael Connelly is joined by Joe Finder, second from left, and Andy Harp, far left, as they pose with a troop during their Operation Thriller III tour to the Middle East last November. (Photo credit: USO)
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