'Sons of Anarchy' actors visit Taji, JBB

Story and photos by Spc. Michael Camacho
139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs

JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — Cast members from the television series "Sons of Anarchy" visited service members March 14 to March 16 at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, and Contingency Operating Base Taji, Iraq.

Mark Boone Jr., who portrays "Bobby Elvis," Theo Rossi, who portrays "Juice", Dayton Callie, who portrays "Chief Unser," and Kim Coates, who portrays "Tig", all took part in a weeklong United Service Organizations tour, making stops in Kuwait and Iraq.

"Sons of Anarchy," which airs on FX, is currently between its second and third season, with filming slated to begin again when the actors return to the U.S.

The actors came to Iraq to show their support for service members overseas, said Air Force Staff Sgt. Darlene Gaskill, the noncommissioned officer in charge of entertainment with the Expeditionary Force Support Squadron, 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing.

"They're doing an autograph session to shake hands and let them know they appreciate what the troops are doing," said Gaskill, a Hammond, Ind., native.

She said most of the service members and civilians that attended the public events have been big fans of the show.

The actors held meet-and-greet events at both the East and West Morale, Welfare and Recreation centers, and one at Ciano's restaurant at JBB over the course of thee days. During the tour, cast members also stopped at COB Taji, Iraq, for three days and three days at Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait.

Cast members made several public appearances and took every opportunity to pose for photos with service members, said Gaskill.

"The cast is very impressed and very grateful for everthing the troops do," she said. "This is their way of giving back to them. It means so much to them to have that individual thank you with each troop."

Gaskill said the turnout for the meet and greets were some of the largest of any celebrity event at JBB. In three days, the cast members met with more than 1,000 troops at JBB and 500 at COB Taji, she said. They visited different units and squadrons, and met with patients currently receiving medical care at the Air Force Theater Hospital at JBB, said Gaskill.

"They have been all over the base, and at every location there are literally hundreds of Airmen and Soldiers who are just waiting to tell them how big of fans they are," she said. "In return, (the cast members) tell them how much they appreciate what they do to protect their freedom."

It has been amazing to see and interact with the service members, said Coates, who was born in Canada and now resides in Los Angeles.

"We give back in a tiny way for what all you men and women do for us back home," said Coates. "What you guys do is very important; we all want you to come home safe soon."

Meeting the cast members from "Sons of Anarchy" is a great opportunity for service members, said Sgt. Scott Voigt, the noncommissioned officer in charge of operations with the 102nd Quartermaster Company, 80th Ordnance Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary).

"There isn't anything better than having them come out and boost the morale of Soldiers," he said.

Voigt, a Peoria, Ill., native, said the cast members visited his company and spent time with the Soldiers.

"They loved seeing these guys, absolutely loved it," he said. "They see these guys on TV and … when one of them comes up and shakes your hand and says, 'Good job,' that'll boost anyone's morale."


news photo
news photo
Cast members of the FX show "Sons of Anarchy" sign autographs for service members during a meet and greet March 16 at Joint Base Balad, Iraq
(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Michael Camacho)