Ozone Magazine Editor Julia Beverly traveled with Paul Wall and DJ Smallz on their recent tour through Kuwait and Afghanistan. The trip was nothing short of transformative. "Writing this piece was a challenge because the trip was such an overwhelmingly new experience,“ Julia told the USO. "I hope I did it justice.”
SOLDIERS OF LOVE This article appears in the newest issue of OZONE Mag.
Paul Wall and DJ Smallz accepted their mission with pride: boost morale amongst American troops deployed in Afghanistan. OZONE tagged along for an unforgettable ride through the war-weary Middle East.
[caption id=“attachment_1397” align=“aligncenter” width=“500” caption=“Paul Wall and DJ Smallz give a radio interview at the AFN station at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan. (USO Photo Erick Anderson)”][/caption]
Where am I?
Seven days in, the thought finally hits me. This is crazy. How did I end up here? I’m weighted down by military-issue body armor, hovering several thousand feet above ground in decidedly unfriendly skies. Mere inches from my left shoulder, a gaping hole where the door should be (photo at left) allows a bird’s eye view of the dry desert and the scenic mountainside of Afghanistan quickly falling away beneath the chopper.
A handful of us are on board the helicopter, including Houston rapper Paul Wall and Florida representative DJ Smallz, but I appear to be the only one suddenly smitten with panic. A four-pronged seatbelt strapped over my bulletproof vest seems to be the only thing separating me from sudden death-by-gravity, as I cling tightly to my cameras and gear with both hands. And a tall, heavily-armed soldier named John Tuerck, strapped in facing me and intently eyeing the ground through the scope of his assault rifle, appears to be the only thing separating me from mid-air death-by-Taliban.