Four movie, TV and football stars are on a seven-day USO tour led by Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
James Gandolfini and Tony Sirico, both famous for starring in the HBO series “The Sopranos,” actress Rose McGowan and New Orleans Saints offensive tackle Jon Stinchcomb are touring as part of an ongoing USO tradition of partnering with senior leaders and working with celebrity entertainers to visit troops stationed abroad.
“I am delighted to once again be traveling with the USO and a great group of entertainers and celebrities who only want to give back to the troops,” Mullen said before the trip. “It means a lot to me that they would take time out of their busy schedules to do this, but it means a great deal more to the men and women downrange and in harm’s way. It’s going to be a great trip.”
This is the first tour for McGowan and Stinchcomb, but the second for Gandolfini and Sirico, who traveled to Kuwait and Iraq in 2004.
“Having the opportunity to travel on a USO tour with Admiral Mullen and visit our nation’s troops was the opportunity of a lifetime,” said McGowan, who starred in “Planet Terror” and “Charmed.”
Super Bowl XLIV champion Stinchcomb said how those fellow teammates and friends who had gone on entertainment tours had told him what a great experience it was.
“Now, I can finally relate to them and tell others how important it is to work with the USO and support our troops,” Stinchcomb said. “War or no war, our soldiers are remarkable and need our support.”
Gandolfini, who produced an HBO documentary titled “Alive Day Memories: Home from Iraq” in 2007, spoke of his reasons to go on tour.
“Our troops are some of the brightest and bravest men and women I’ve ever met,” he said. “Sadly, they don’t always get the appreciation and recognition they deserve. The USO allows me the privilege to meet them in person, show them my gratitude and thank them for their service.”
Sirico said he was proud of all the men and women in uniform who stepped up to the plate.
“It’s a spiritual thing to me,” he said. “We play tough guys on TV, but me and Jimmy agree, you don’t know tough until you see our troops over there.”