Happy New Year from Bahrain. I hope 2008 treats you well.

Bahrain has been our “base” of operations for the past week. We’ve done a couple of shows here when ships dock, but we also fly from here to other places. In doing so, we fly military aircraft. They give us safety briefings, tell us how safe the flight is going to be, and then politely ask us, “Oh by the way, who’s your next of kin?” How very ominous. I think if the Navy operated a restaurant, it would tell you proudly that it cooks in trans fat, then give you a defribulator just in case.

They’ve been great to us here. They first flew us to Djibouti, Africa after filling us with every vaccination every known. Typhoid, polio, cat scratch fever, cooties, and one generic one called “to be announced”. Djibouti is only a little north of the equator. Celebrating Christmas there felt weird and different for sure, but the Marines stationed there made the most of it and stayed festive. For example, I saw one guy making snow angels one afternoon. Then I found out he was just having a heat stroke. That made sense because that snow angel sucked.

We then flew out to an aircraft carrier to entertain the 5,000 sailors on board. It was the Harry S. Truman, and the show was great. We performed in a cavernous hangar bay under the flight deck. Before the show, I was walking with my head down, trying to figure out a recorder that I’m using to get some shows on tape. Not paying attention, I slammed my head right into the tailfin of an F-18. Classy. The area above my eye welted up pretty good, but I had to muscle through it and do the show. I have a war wound now, so that’s interesting.

The slogan on board is “Give ’em hell”. It’s posted everywhere, and it stems from one of Truman’s campaign stops, at which a supporter cried out, “Give ’em hell, Harry!”. The slogan stuck and caught on. After learning this, I’m now determined to go to our politicians’ campaign stops and yell out, “Suck it, Vols!” in hopes that it sticks and gets the national exposure it deserves.

After the Truman we took a helicopter to the destroyer USS Winston Churchill, home to 280 sailors on duty protecting an oil drilling station a mere 4 miles from Iranian waters. Eerily close. It was surreal, especially when we performed on deck in front of the launch point for 16 Tomahawk missiles. The Churchill is an unbelievable vessel. It has satellite intel gathering capabilities, 3-D sonar, laser-guided Tomahawks that can land on a dime. …And I still managed to clog up one of their toilets. Hard to imagine that there was all that bad ass machinery, and I was able to overpower it in my own special way. All those defensive capabilities and they neglected to think what could happen if attacked by a guy who just ate a chili dog and about 3 pounds of mac and cheese.

I was shocked to hear that the average age on these ships is a mere 19 years old. Nineteen!! That’s amazing. These are special people. I know I couldn’t do what they do, especially considering that I can’t walk through a hangar the size of 10 Super Wal Marts without clanking into a 50-ton fighter jet. I can’t imagine being so young and having so much responsibility in my hands. If the average age doesn’t increase, I can only hope that bin Laden gets a profile on facebook or myspace so we can find that elusive prick.

Off to Qatar tomorrow. I’ll post more later.

Happy 2008, the year of the mighty Commodores.

Categories: Columns