Rock band, Filter, traveled to Kuwait for the 3rd time in just over 3 years to entertain the troops.
(PHOTO CREDIT CW3 DANIEL MCGOWAN)
Only difference this time, is they are not going into Iraq because the troops are “processing out” to return home.
Filter performed at 2 shows, Camp Virginia, Camp Buehring and Camp Arifjan, as well as base tour and hand-shake at Camp Patriot.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 14TH – CAMP PATRIOT, KUWAIT NAVAL BASE FOR DARRYL WORLEY AND FILTER ARRIVES:
Thought today was going to be my “easy” day to get caught up on all my office work. Shows how wrong I can be!
Got up early and got Darryl and his group off to Camp Patriot at Kuwait Naval Base – about an hour and a half drive from the hotel. I had a great – although chilly – jog on the beach. Then my usually egg white omelet for breakfast. The “chef” had disappeared this morning and I had to send someone to the kitchen to get him. Every morning, it’s a “surprise” as to what he will actually put in my omelet as opposed to what I asked for. The first day, he left made it out of eggs instead of egg whites, the second day he got it right, today he forgot the cheese. Looking forward to a breakfast surprise tomorrow.
I showered and met Contee in the lobby to go to the airport for the early arrival of Filter.Contee and I were sitting in Starbucks when his phone rang and it was David with Filter. He said that Richard had gotten sick on the flight and they were in the “medical clinic” in the airport. They were being told everyone would have to go to the local hospital and they would not release them. I told him to tell them we would take Richard to the military base hospital but he said they would not allow it. I asked if he had shown them the copy of the military orders and he had not. As soon as they saw those, they released the group.
Richard came out wearing a surgeon’s mask and sitting in a wheel chair! As background, he had sent me a photo earlier this week of his little boy sitting on his lap and he was wearing a surgeon’s mask and latex gloves. Said he was spending the night in a hotel because his kids had a stomach virus and he didn’t want to get it. I replied that I hoped he didn’t, especially not on the flight over. I had a stomach virus from Tokyo to Detroit several years ago. They actually closed down the toilet and let me have it the entire 12 hours. I stayed in there all that time, too! I guess I jinxed him because he got it about an hour into flight.
I had already checked the guys in and had their room keys with me. Gave them to the tour manager and I left with our PSD escort (Those guys have been LIFESAVERS!) for the medical clinic at Arifjan. It took 45 minutes because of traffic and it was “touch and go” several times. I was praying he wouldn’t throw up because we had NOTHING in the SUV to help him…no plastic bags, boxes, nothing. Plus I knew if he did, I would, too! Poor little Ben (our PSD escort) was probably wondering what in the heck he had volunteered for! The medics were waiting out front with a wheel chair and the doctor saw him immediately. They hooked him up to an IV and began pumping him full of liquids for his dehydration and medicine for the nausea. He also “mentioned” that he had a headache. They took blood, a urine sample and then insisted on a CAT scan for the headache. I wanted to say, “for goodness sake, he caught the stomach virus from his kids”. But it would not have made a difference. They were very “thorough”. But, they had several other patients ahead of him so we waited and waited and waited. I finally left Contee with him and had Ben take me back to the hotel so I could get with Lindsey before they left and make sure everything was ready for them to go.
Walked over to Chili’s for a very quick meal with Lindsey and David. I had to leave before I could finish eating because Contee was bringing Richard back to the hotel. He looked 100% better and said he felt that much better, too. Got him situated in his room with a bag of Gatorade, colas and ginger ale that I had purchased for him at the BX. He was hungry but hopefully he ate “sparingly”!
Lindsey said the group had a great visit to the Naval Base today. Darryl took a couple of guitars and gave them an impromptu “mini concert” too.
I had asked the hotel to have the bill ready for me to review for Darryl by 8:30 pm. They didn’t. I asked several times between 8:30 and 9:00 and never got it. Darryl’s group left and I told the front desk that I was not responsible for any unpaid charges on their incidentals.
The MWR escort was supposed to be here in time for the group to be loaded and ready to leave by 9:00 pm. He wasn’t. And he didn’t bring a truck or van for their luggage and gear. Again, if not for PSD, we would have been screwed. They loaded the luggage and equipment into their SUV’s and helped get the group on the road.
Went back to my room to do some more work. At 10:30 pm someone knocked on my door and it was one of the hotel staff asking when I was checking out. I told him I was checking out on the 19th! Then at 11 pm, the front desk called and wanted to know if it was okay to charge my credit card for Darryl’s group. I told them “NO, not until I review the bill and that will be tomorrow”. I can’t believe a hotel would knock on a guest’s door at 10:30 pm or call their room at 11 pm! Sure do hate to change hotels but the service has declined at this one.
So, hope to go to bed before 3 am tonight. We go to Camp Virginia tomorrow. That’s where the camel (Clyde) bit our escort’s hand while I was trying to ride him. I learned earlier this week that Clyde has been replaced by a young camel and he wears a muzzle! Poor Clyde. It could have been worse – camel burgers! L
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 15TH – FIRST PERFORMANCE IN KUWAIT FOR FILTER:
Got in a great workout this morning at the health club and had my “surprise omelet” for breakfast. Today, chef left out the cheese. J
We departed for Camp Virginia at noon and I had the guys autograph 400 photos on the ride up. They did it in record time, too. Had an email from Richard first thing saying he hated to admit it but thought he might need a root canal! Poor guy….just really isn’t having a good week!
We arrived at Camp Virginia and went straight to the office call with LTC Bobo. I remember him from our visit a few weeks ago with Lonestar.And Gina was there – my poor host who got bitten by the camel. She said she had to take 14 rabies shots because of the bite. I still feel so bad. She also said they didn’t fire Clyde and make camel burgers out of him. He still visits the camp for rides once a month but now wears a muzzle.
Richard went straight to the dentist after the Command visit and we went to the stage for a few minutes. Then the band went to visit the transportation division for a tour of the MRAPS. Richard still wasn’t back from the dentist which isn’t a good sign.
We got back to the stage at 4 pm and started sound check – without Richard. David and I went over to the base exchange and yes, Frank, I made some purchases. J Richard made it back to the stage at 4:30 pm.He had one root canal and something done to two other teeth. The dentist said some of what he did was just a “quick fix” and might not last until they get home. He may have to see another dentist at Buehring tomorrow!
We walked over to the DFAC for a quick dinner and the Pasta Bar was open tonight. After dinner, we took the guys who did not get to go to the Exchange this afternoon over for a quick visit. This is the smallest exchange we will visit and I encouraged them to wait for the next camps for purchases.
Tonight was a Media Nightmare. CNN, Fox, CBS, ABC, NBC, Geraldo, and AP are all at Camp Virginia. As we were walking to the DFAC, security grabbed me and asked if I knew Richard had stopped to talk to CNN. Panic attack. Have you EVER known the media to be out looking for “good news” stories? I ran back and grabbed him and told him no one was allowed to talk to the media except the base commander – not the military and not civilians. Then while we were at the Exchange, security advised that NBC had set up their camera at our FOH position and planned to film the show! I had to politely tell them that they did not have permission and I was unable to give permission without first speaking with their manager. Since their manager is in the Los Angeles “time zone”, didn’t think I could get permission until much later in the evening…probably after the concert was over. They suggested they go ahead and film and then get the permission they needed. Yeah, right, I was born yesterday!
Had a slight technical problem and the show started about 15 minutes late. But it was a GREAT show….very loud, but great. Audience was fired up, of course. Even had the Mosh Pit. A female showed up in one of the “bomb proof” suits that the EOD team wears when dismantling explosives. She was going to jump into the Mosh Pit until our security advised her that she was NOT. After the show as we were walking over to the autograph session, the guys stopped to talk to her and look at the suit. A lady from AP came up and started to take a photo and wanted an interview. Of course, she had not gone through the proper channels with the Base PAO and we had to decline.
The autograph line was short compared to lines for a country music artist – just a very different kind of “fan”. Rock fans think they are much too cool to stand in line for hours to get an autograph. Country fans will bring a cot and food and camp out for days to get an autograph. J
We were back at the hotel by 11 pm with the guys minds reeling from tales about “Man Love Thursday” which was “out in force” tonight. Lots of partying all over the city.
Tomorrow is Camp Buehring (again) and we will have another big crowd.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 16TH – CAMP BUEHRING, KUWAIT PERFORMANCE:
Got up in time to jog this morning and it was considerably warmer. AND there was no traffic. I still didn’t try to cross the street and jog in the little park. I don’t like making “loops”. Much nicer running on the beach. And there is always some type of “entertainment” on that run.Today, there were two huge SUVs stuck in the sand up to their running boards. Another SUV with a little thin cable was attempting to pull them out. Several large men were gathered around watching a smaller guy lie on his stomach and try to dig sand away from the SUV so he could connect the cable. Honestly, I doubt that they ever succeeded! Not sure how they got stuck there. It was Thursday night (Friday and Saturday are holidays) and everyone was partying but with the absence of alcohol, hard to figure out how they came to be driving on the beach in the first place!
I ordered my omelet surprise this morning and was sure I had the “no cheese” factor fixed. I said “egg white omelet with tomato, mushroom, and EXTRA cheese – no salt”. There was no cheese when it arrived. I give up.
We left for Camp Buehring at around 11:30 am and arrive 1 ½ hours later. I think I know everyone by name here now. First stop was a tour of the flight line – apache and Blackhawk choppers. Then we let the guys play at the video firing range. I think I shoot better than any of them and I truly suck. Not sure some of these boys have ever held a gun before! We stopped by the Exchange and I tried to buy two of the wooden baskets like I purchased last tour. I paid $20 each for two last time and this time they wanted $140! I refused and walked off. Guess it’s the Christmas price increase. L
Took out techs to the stage and the musicians to the stage. The band went to the Commander’s Office Call and then back to the stage for sound check. No issues today. We walked over to the DFAC for dinner at 5 pm and show started right on time at 7 pm. Another HUGE crowd. We may have broken Lonestar’s record for attendance. And Richard crowd surfed in the Mosh Pit again and gave me my second heart attack of the tour.
Autograph line was longer than last night but still not as long as for country music artists. They had a rapper here last night and said he had a huge crowd but very, very short autograph line.
Started getting emails from friends saying there was a photo of the audience at Camp Virginia last night at the Filter concert on the front page of the Washington Times. Evidently, the girl from AP ran the story and photo. It’s a great photo – accompanied in every article by the fact that we lost four thousand plus men and women during the conflict in Iraq. Media just can’t report the news if they can’t throw in the bad stuff. I googled the story and it’s been picked up throughout the U.S. in most newspapers.
Even with the 1 ½ hour drive, we were back at the hotel by 11:30 am. Tomorrow they perform at Camp Arifjan and that will probably be an even bigger crowd
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 17TH, FILTER PERFORMS FINAL SHOW AT CAMP ARIFJAN:
Happy Birthday, Craig!
Went to the gym for one last time this morning. David came in while I was working out and as we were talking, this guy fell down across the gym from us. I heard his head crack on the machine but he hopped right up and said he was fine. Still don’t know why he fell!
Went to breakfast and as soon I saw the “female” chef, I decided to vary my menu and NOT have her surprise omelet. She’s really bad when it comes to making them.
We left at 12:30 pm for the 45 minute ride to Camp Arifjan. First stop was the command call. Colonel Bowers wasn’t there and I was surprised because he always gives the brief. Found out later that he was passing a 4mm kidney stone…ouch! LTC Caya briefed us and he was very good.The guys had lots of very intelligent questions for him and his staff. This group is very interested because they have been here so many times and been able to see the progress the troops made.
We had a few minutes for a stop by the base exchange and the guys were on a spending spree. After that stop, took the techs to the stage and the band went to the hospital. The staff were happy to see Rich feeling so much better. Wish I had known that Colonel Bowers was probably there when we visited. We would definitely have gathered around his bed to harass him. J
Sound check was next and no issues today except with Jonny’s pedal board. They got it fixed pretty quickly. I took Joe (head of our PSD team) with me to buy the baskets because he got me the great price last time. He did it again this time, too. I promised the shop keeper I’d bring him lots of business when we come back.
It was another huge, very, very excited crowd. LOTS of crowd surfing tonight and I watched several people get dropped. At one point, the crowd started throwing the Chem lights (glow sticks). They were red, green, and white and it made for a really beautiful sight.
Guys went back out for an encore again tonight and then we went into the gym for the autograph session. One of the photographers who always takes the photos for us was there but he had blood on his head.Seems he got hit in the head with a glow stick! He had to leave and go have it looked at by a medic. Hope he’s okay!
Funny when I walk around through the crowd or at the DFAC, I’ve been here so much recently that several of the guys and girls call me by name. Love that.
Autograph line was usually long tonight…gave out at least 300 photos. It moved quickly because we had pre-signed the photos. The fan stepped up, shook everyone’s hand, took a photo, and as they left I gave them the autographed photo. It works great as long as we have plenty of volunteers helping take the photos.
We were back at the hotel by around 11:30 again tonight. Have an “early” call tomorrow – 9:30 am departure to KNB (Kuwait Naval Base – Camp Patriot). Hard to believe all the performances are over and we’re heading home a little after midnight tomorrow night.
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 18TH – MEET AND GREET VISIT TO CAMP PATRIOT AT KUWAIT NAVAL BASE:
Woke up at 3:30 am with a very sore throat. But, I think it was just because of “dryness”. I haven’t stayed in hotel in Kuwait for this length of time before. Had to get up at 6 am, so no time to work out today. Showered, had breakfast with David, and we left for Camp Patriot which is located on the Kuwait Naval Base, which is a little “different”. Our Commander’s Office Call was with the Army Guard from Minnesota. We did meet a few men and women in the Navy, but not many.
The Command Office call went way over the time allotted because they were trying to kill time.A ship had come in so we were going to be able to tour it. But they were unloading ammunition and we had to wait for them to finish that.
We drove through the Navy Yard and we actually have one full side that belongs to the U.S.Took a very quick tour of the cargo ship that was docked. Ate an even quicker lunch and then headed for the “meet and greet”. Things are pretty disorganized at this Camp because they don’t get a lot of celebrity visits. Everyone was super nice but it took more “wrangling” than normal to keep things moving. At one point, their MWR Director came up to me and asked my name again. Then he said “I think you are so awesome”. I laughed and said, “why is that”? He responded that I had told the Commander that we “had to go now”! Guess he doesn’t have the luxury of being able to do something like that.
There never was a real “line” for autographs, just people walking by and stopping sporadically.We stayed for about an hour and signed about 50-75 autographs and took photos with everyone.
Then it was back on the bus for an hour and 15 minute drive back to the hotel. Got back around 3 pm and had the rest of the afternoon / evening off until departure at 9:30 pm to the airport.United has changed the aircraft AGAIN, so it’s going to be lots of fun, I’m sure.
David and I walked over at 7 pm and had sushi at the same sushi bar where Lindsey and I ate.I only had two rolls and they were excellent. I was saving room for something from the Chocolate Bar. But, when we walked to the Chocolate Bar, it was full. L Saved me from getting fatter, I suppose. We walked past another restaurant on our way to the sushi bar and all the guys were in there eating. I looked at their food and decided immediately that I didn’t want to eat there. Although they said it was really good. Of course, the guy who said that also didn’t like the sushi so maybe we just have very different tastes.
We left for the airport at 9:30 pm and check in was quite and painless thanks to PSD who walked us through the back way. The rap artist who was touring for the USO was on our flight, too. He had cracked a rib getting of an apache helicopter earlier today! We had about an hour in the Lounge and then boarded the flight and departed on time. The flight crew was really nice and the pilot was one that I knew from other flights. First class had lots of empty seats and there weren’t any sky marshalls on the flight. I didn’t eat but did watch a bad movie and then slept most of the flight. I realized as we were about to land that I must have slept through the flight attendant giving out the customs forms. I don’t need one if the Global Entry kiosk works as it should but I never take a chance so I got one from her and filled it out.
We landed an entire hour early but another flight was landing as well. We were first off though and my guys got through Immigration…except for David who left his camera on the plane and had to go back and Richard who also didn’t receive a customs form and had to fill it out after he got off the flight. The guys and I were able to collect their bags and have them ready when they finally came out. David and I still had a few minutes at the gate before we boarded. I struck out on finding a toy for the twins so will have to go to Target before they come over tonight.
Flight to Nashville had lots of empty seats, too, and also departed on time. Home now and stressing out about Christmas shopping! Fly back to Kuwait on December 27th.