Former Marine and Top 5 American Idol finalist, Josh Gracin, traveled with his band to Kuwait and Iraq for the 4th of July holiday to entertain our military. While in Kuwait, Josh signed autographs for more than 3 hours and had the 2nd highest attendance on record, next to Charlie Daniels.
“This was something I just had to do,” said Gracin. “It was important for me to give back to our men and women in uniform and bring a little piece of home to our folks serving overseas. This is something that will stay with me for the rest of my life.” – Josh Gracin
Thursday, June 28: I have hired David Beecham to travel on this tour with Josh Gracin. David has traveled all over the world and handled production for many artists. He is a wonderful person and very talented at what he does. I am still depressed that I was not able to make this trip on my own, but work before passion. David arrived in Nashville the day before their scheduled departure. Good thing he came in a day early, the airlines have been having major delays all over the country. Lindsey picked him up at the airport, she and Penny took him to dinner to talk about the trip and catch up.
Friday, June 29: Lindsey took David to the airport and assisted with getting checked in. She met Josh and the band. Everyone was so great and so excited about their upcoming trip to entertain the troops. The group departed on time and no delays. AS TOLD BY DAVID BEECHAM:
Saturday, June 30: The group arrived into Kuwait late on Saturday night. Went to the hotel and crashed. J
Sunday, July 1: Today we had our first performance at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait with a record attendance. The band began the day around noon with load in, while Josh attended a “meet & greet” for the Marine Central Command. Josh later shot some basketball with the troops in 128 degree heat and then headed over for sound check and a few interviews. Josh had an attendance of 1,900 tonight, the 2nd highest attendance next to Charlie Daniels. WTG Josh!!! After the show, Josh signed autographs for several hours and asked the troops to send a “Shout Out” back home, which Josh will include on his website.
Monday, July 2 Up early to fly to Q West, Iraq, only to find out flight was delayed by 2 hours. In the meantime, Josh visited the Theater Mortuary Evacuation Point. Finally took off about 11:30 AM only to arrive in Talil and be delayed again due to mechanical issues. Finally reached our destination at 5:00 PM. Did a quick load in / sound check while Josh did meet & greet. Josh performed for over 300 and signed autographs until midnight.
Tuesday, July 3 Supposed to depart early for a performance in Kirkuk, Iraq; however the group is informed that the flight we are “hitching” will not be arriving here until 9:00 PM. Capt. Carter at Camp Speicher begins scrambling to get us to Kirkuk via a couple of Chinooks. In the meantime, Josh has a meet & greet at the base hospital and outposts. Depart for Kirkuk and land a little after 5:00 PM. Josh does an interview with a Hungarian TV Crew, performs and sign autographs for everyone in line. Again, Josh asks the troops to give a “Shout Out” to folks back home to include on his website. After the show, everyone was informed that there would be “wheels up” at 1:00 AM. By 2:00 AM no one had shown up, apparently the load master had taken ill. By 3:00 AM we still had not received a replacement so everyone went on to bed.
Wednesday, July 4 – HAPPY INDEPENDCE DAY!!! No flights in or out to Camp Speicher today due to sand storms. Josh heads over to the hospital for a meet and greet and afterwards plays in the Dodge Ball Tournament. Capt. Sadler was able to get a C-17 that evening and we headed out to Balad, en route we get diverted to Camp Speicher as the storms had cleared. Landed about 5:00 PM and the PA was ready to go. The crew loaded in, Josh performed another excellent show and signed autographs for 3 hours! Got to bed about 3:00 AM, long day!
Thursday, July 5 Planned to fly to Balad today, but once our plane arrived, their mission had changed. Ended up having to cancel our trip to Balad and we headed back to Kuwait. En route we had to make a stop in Mosul, then another “emergency” stop in Balad when the C-130 lost an engine in flight. While the plane was being worked on, we ran into General Field and he and Donny were able to coordinate a show at the AF Rec. Center. (Our performance in Balad is usually at the theatre. When our flight was cancelled, the base showed a movie instead). Josh visits the base hospital for a meet & greet, performs the show, Gen. Field presents everyone with coins – again, a great show. Josh signs autographs for everyone in line. Bed at 2:00 AM.
Friday, July 6: Was scheduled to depart for Kuwait at 6:45 AM, but was notified at 3:00 AM that departure was changed to 4:15 AM. Sat on the flight line for 2 hours, finally left at 6:00 AM. Clayton met us and escorted us all back to the hotel, arrived there at 8:00 AM. Showered, rested and had dinner at 7:00 PM and reflected on what a hectic, but worthwhile trip this had been. Departed for the airport at 10:00 PM, flight took off at 12:30 AM and we all arrived home safe and sound. Several of the guys had lost luggage once they arrived in Nashville.