By Petty Officer 2nd Class Scott Wood

OAK HARBOR, Wash. – Naval Air Station Whidbey Island hosted Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band July 14 on Whidbey Island.

Sinise, well known for his role as Lt. Dan in the movie “Forrest Gump,” formed the band to provide morale, recognition and support to the military and its family members.

“After 9/11, I wanted to make sure the military folks always knew there was a grateful nation,” Sinise said.

“I thought it’d be fun, you know, to put on a show. The USO let me do that. I loved it so much and the USO seemed to enjoy [it so much] that they didn’t hear we were terrible,” Sinise said before the concert, laughing as he recalled the band’s first few shows.

He went on to explain how precious these concerts were, and that each moment he got to spend with the troops was entirely worth it.

“We’d come into a place and there’d be a line of a thousand folks, and they were going to have two seconds to get a picture,“ he said. "I realized very quickly that the little moments you spend with folks in the battle zone can seem like a pretty long moment if you do it right, cause you never know who you’re talking to and what might happen to them in the next hour.”

Sinise mentioned a few parents have come to him and said those pictures were the last their children had ever taken.

“I never take for granted what I’m doing here for the military.”

Hundreds of people stood cheering and singing along, their arms raised with many hands holding phones to take pictures of the moment, all to remember the appreciation they were given by Sinise and his Lt. Dan Band.

When asked what people could do to show their respect for the military, Sinise responded simply, “Just look in your neighborhood. Start there. Reach out to them, anybody can do that.”

–This story originally appeared on

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