Craig Morgan, Chris Young electrify Holt Stadium

Story and photo by Spc. John Stimac
139th MPAD
13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs

JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — Country music stars Craig Morgan, Chris Young and Great American Country host Nan Kelley treated service members to a night of country music and hospitality Oct. 29 at Holt Stadium at Joint Base Balad.

The event was sponsored by Stars for Stripes, a non-profit organization that provides entertainment to internationally deployed troops.

Kelley, GAC host, said this was her first time in Iraq.

“We received a phone call from Stars for Stripes to do the show and it was a resounding ‘yes,’” said Kelley. “After that, Stars for Stripes did all the leg work.”

She said it was a privilege and an honor for the group to tour for service members.

According to Morgan’s Web site, the Stars for Stripes tour will visit military bases and hospitals in Iraq and Germany this month for a series of acoustic concerts by recording artist’s Morgan and Young.

The concerts were dedicated to Air Force Staff Sgt. Scott Lilley and retired Sgt. 1st Class Joseph L. Bowser.

Lilley, with the 343rd Training Squadron at Lackland Air Force Base and a Roswell, N.M., native, was stationed in Baghdad in 2007 when he was injured in an attack during a convoy.

“Judy Sill from Stars for Stripes visited me in the hospital at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., where I was recovering,” said Lilley. “She later called me and invited both myself and my father on the tour.”

Lilley, who was initially treated for his injuries at JBB, thanked all Army medics for saving his life the day he was injured.

Lilley said the concert was awesome and he had a good time.

“I told my dad he was crazy for wanting to come here, but he wanted to be a part of where I had been before and thank all the service members for what they do every day and what they had done for me that day,” said Lilley.

Bowser, who was injured at JBB in an indirect fire attack, rehabilitated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington for nearly two years.

Bowser, who had lost his leg during the attack, said he wanted to thank the medic who took care of him that day, but he never got the chance.

In an address before the concert, Bowser lifted up his pant leg to show the audience the American flag on his prosthetic leg.

“All of you wear the American flag on your right shoulder, and this is now where I wear mine,” said Bowser.

The audience applauded his display.

Spc. Benjamin R. Ferris, 49th Transportation Battalion, command driver and a Battle Creek, Mich., native, said he knew this would be a great concert.

“I follow both of these guys back home,” said Ferris. “I really started getting into Chris Young after ‘The Black Dress’ came out.”

Spc. Adrian Lee, facility manager with the 49th Trans. Bn. and a Tifton, Ga., native, said he was “tickled pink” to see these two perform here.

“I like both performers,” said Lee. “I’m waiting to hear ‘That’s What I Love About Sunday’ from Craig Morgan and ‘Drinking Me Lonely’ from Chris Young.”

Lee said he was glad that the concert was outdoors rather than inside the theater.

“It gave more people a chance to see the show,” said Lee.

Morgan, a 10-year Army veteran, said this was his sixth time in Iraq and he enjoys entertaining the men and women of the Armed Forces.

“I really want them to know we appreciate everything they do,” said Morgan. “Take pride in what you are doing and know that you they are changing people’s lives.”

Young said this was his first time in Iraq and it has been an amazing experience for him.

“This trip has blown me away,” said Young. “I can’t thank the service members enough for what they do. Everyone here has been so hospitable to us. Lots of people have taken time out of their evening for us and it was an honor to play for everyone.”


news photo
Country musician Chris Young performs one of his new hits during the Stars for Stripes tour Oct. 29 at Joint Base Balad. Young is one of the artists performing a month-long tour at bases and hospitals throughout Germany and Iraq.

news photo
Country musician Craig Morgan performs one of his hit singles during the Stars for Stripes tour Oct. 29 at Joint Base Balad. Morgan is one of the artists performing a month long tour at bases and hospitals throughout Germany and Iraq.