Oklahoma country music superstar Toby Keith is currently in Iraq, having returned to the Middle East last week on his ninth United Service Organization/Armed Forces Entertainment tour.
Keith has traveled across the globe as a USO celebrity volunteer for nearly a decade, delivering smiles and a much-needed touch of home to troops and their families.
“Since my first tour, I’ve been hooked on performing for troops. I start looking forward to my next USO trip the minute I touch down here in the States. I love it and I love our troops, they are the best in the world,” Keith said in a news release.
Thus far on Keith’s 12-day, 3-country USO tour, he has lifted the spirits of more than 9,900 service members in the Middle East. Among the places visited were the USS Enterprise CVN-65 and the USS Leyte Gulf CG-55.
Since his first USO tour in 2002, the Norman resident has traveled to 11 countries and participated in eight USO tours. He has lifted the spirits of troops and their families stationed in Africa, Belgium, Cuba, Germany, Italy, Korea, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan and Macedonia, as well as those U.S. troops on the front lines in Afghanistan and Iraq – many of whom were serving at small remote forward operating bases.
In recognition of his ongoing support for U.S. troops and their families, Keith was presented the 2009 Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) Distinguished Service Award.
In 2007, while visiting troops in Afghanistan, Keith recognized the need to deliver the small comforts of home to service members stationed in remote locations. His idea later became known as the “USO2GO” program – a USO program that sends much needed electronics, entertainment and personal care items to troops in the field. To date, USO2GO bundles have been delivered to more than 500 remote forward operating bases in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Philippines, Egypt, Djibouti and Kuwait.
Following on the heels of a 2010 Grammy nomination as well as a nomination for 2011 ACM Entertainer of the Year, Keith recently announced plans to return to Europe on his “Locked and Loaded World Tour.”
Check out these photos from Keith’s current USO tour:
See more photos after the break.