By Sandi Moynihan
Most service members working overseas this December don’t have the option of heading home.
So the USO brought the holidays to them.
The USO recently wrapped up its 2015 USO Holiday Tour, which provided entertainment, fun and holiday cheer to over 3,100 service members and their families at military bases in Italy, Djibouti, Afghanistan, Bahrain and Germany.
The five-country tour was headed by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr. and USO President and CEO Dr. J.D. Crouch II. It featured Daughtry, Emmy-nominated actress Elizabeth Banks, comedian Sydney Castillo, Boston Red Sox pitchers Heath Hembree and Steven Wright, songwriters Kyle Jacobs, Brett James and Billy Montana and longtime comedian-producer-director David Wain.
“I’m honored to meet people I consider heroes,” Castillo said. “My father was in the military and I’m forever grateful for the military’s service.”
In addition to hosting a series of variety-style shows for service members, the USO Holiday Tour also visited six military bases and stopped by the the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.
"Overall, it was an amazing experience,” Banks wrote on her website. “Keep our service members in your hearts and/or prayers this holiday season!”
Songwriters Brett James, left, Billy Montana center and Kyle Jacobs perform during the tour.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr. introduces a USO performance.
Singer-songwriter and record producer Brett James performs one of his hits for service members and their families.
From left, David Wain, Heath Hembree, Elizabeth Banks and Steven Wright entertain military families at the NSA Sigonella in Sicily, Italy.
Heath Hembree throws out souvenir baseballs to the audience.
Chris Daughtry performs.
Sydney Castillo checks out a MQ-1 “Predator,” a remotely piloted aircraft.
It was the sixth USO tour for Jacobs, the third for Daughtry and the inaugural USO experience for everyone else in the group.
“It’s an always honor for me to visit and talk with our service members, civilians and families, especially those serving overseas,” Dunford said. “We thank all of them for their dedication and continued sacrifice and wish all a safe and wonderful holiday season.“