MONDAY AND TUESDAY, AUGUST 14TH AND 15TH, 2017 – NASHVILLE TO SEOUL, KOREA:
Leaving today for 4 shows in South Korea with Chase Rice. The past week has been “challenging” as far as not knowing if the tour will go forward or not because of the crisis with North Korea. Chase toured for the troops last year throughout Japan and it was great. He has a fantastic show and his guys are all so nice to work with.
I got up at 5 am and was at the airport by 8 am. The guys were supposed to arrive at 8:30 am but several were stuck in traffic. Delta opened up a special lane for us and it took an hour and a half to get everyone checked in once everyone arrived. Our flight was departing on time, so there was no “down” time once I cleared security. I was able to talk to the gate agent and get the guys carrying guitars on board permission to board first. We had checked 34 pieces of equipment and luggage.
It was a short flight to Detroit and we had been notified before we ever left Nashville that the flight was “delayed” for a half hour. I went into the Delta Lounge and worked for a couple of hours and then went to the gate to speak with the gate agent again. Thankfully, the nice lady at the gate had children who were huge country music fans…especially of Chase Rice. She said our entire group could board first. Chase signed a couple of photos for her kids and took a picture with her. She tried to get Chase moved to the upstairs seats but the flight was completely sold out. He’s never flown in the upstairs area and the airlines are retiring this model soon. I hate that because it’s my favorite!
I was able to work for about 30 minutes before taking off and then had to wait until after the meal was served. I worked for about 3 hours and knew I had to try to sleep. Of course, as usual, the ONLY person in the entire upstairs area who refused to close his window shade was right across from me. About 2 hours later, he finally decided he needed to sleep and closed it. It was one of those flights for me where it was impossible to sleep. I had finally dozed off when some guy from the coach section downstairs came up to see his buddy upstairs. They were standing right beside my seat and talking loudly and laughing. Everyone upstairs was trying to sleep, so I went back and told the flight attendant to please ask them to be quiet. Making lots of new friends on this flight. ☹
I think I might have slept a total of 30 minutes the entire flight. Going to be miserable on the 3 hour bus ride to Camp Casey after we land!
We landed on time and believe it or not, Immigration was EASY and all our luggage and gear made the flight. Great way to start the tour. Also, one of the musicians got upgraded to First Class for the flight over because his video monitor and overhead lights didn’t work. Wish they could have upgraded everyone but it was a FULL flight. Mr. Chong was waiting for us outside baggage claim and had a truck for the equipment and a big bus for us and the luggage. We loaded both vehicles and then went back inside to change money and grab some food. That’s also when I found out, it’s not a 3 hour drive from the airport to Camp Casey. It’s only 1hr and 10 minutes! I’ll take surprises like that any day.
We loaded onto the bus and I got up to do a head count and my entire cup of coffee spilled onto the “spotless” bus floor. The driver didn’t have any paper towels so I rushed back inside to grab some. By the time I got back, he had already gotten a “mop” from beneath the bus and cleaned up my mess. I felt so bad!
Trip was easy and very “quiet” as most people slept. We arrived at Casey Lodge and our rooms were ready for us. Got everyone checked in and then I started working. It’s after 2 am now and I am going to bed for 4 hours!!! Thankfully, Wi-Fi works great in my room.
Tomorrow is the tour to the DMZ.
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 16TH – VISIT TO THE DMZ:
Got my 3 hours of sleep (ouch) and met the guys in the lobby for an 8:30 am departure to the DMZ. Mike – our escort today – was able to tell the guys lots of “history” about the DMZ on the one hour drive North. We arrived at the gate early and I thought we were waiting to be escorted in because we were early. Then after 15 minutes when no one showed up, I asked Mike if they knew we were there. He assured me they knew, but after another 15 minutes when no one met us, I asked him to please check. Forty-five minutes later and more than 15 minutes late for our “briefing” we were escorted inside. Our military host took us to the briefing room and I could tell that the person giving the brief was not happy with our late arrival. After he finished his talk, I apologized to him and told him what had happened. He is from New Zealand and was very nice and said he was going to get to the bottom of “why” no one met us as planned.
The briefing was great as usual and provided critical information to the guys to help them understand this region and why we have troops here. It also alleviated the “fears” some of the guys had about our safety while visiting here.
First stop was the building on the DMZ which sits half on South Korea and half on North Korea. That was a real treat for the guys. First we stand outside and stare into North Korea while the North Korean soldiers stare at us through binoculars and take photos of us. They sent a couple of their soldiers down to the building and when we walked inside, the North Korea soldiers came to the windows on their side and took photos of us inside. Chase and his guys all took “selfies” of the North Korean Soldiers taking photos of them through the windows. So crazy! Everyone was allowed to walk into North Korea and stand beside our ROK soldiers and take a photo as long as we didn’t talk to them or touch them.
We left there and drove past the Bridge of No Return. In years past, we were able to stand on the road and take photos. However, North Korea has mined it heavily in the last couple of years and it is now off limits. We went to another lookout point and found out that the young 21 year old military escort with us is from Nashville, TN. In all my many, many visits to the DMZ, this is the first time I’ve met anyone from Nashville!
From there, we went to the DFAC and has lunch and then Chase signed autographs and sang a couple of songs for the troops deployed to the DMZ. There was some miscommunication and no one was aware that Chase was visiting or singing. It didn’t take the SSgt in charge very long to get the message out and the troops started pouring in. It was a great mini-concert!
We drove to Tunnel 3 for the tour but again, had miscommunication. We were supposed to ride down in a little “tram” car but were told we would have to talk instead. I’ve done that and didn’t want the guys to have to walk. I was able to convince the Koreans that I would “pay” the cost of the tram ride. They agreed and 13 of us headed down…one guy didn’t go because he has claustrophobia. During the last section, we have to walk and the ceiling is so low, everyone whacks their head several times on the “roof”. We were all issued hard hats for exactly that reason! Oh and the cost for all 13 people – a grand total of $34.00 U.S. 😊
Everyone went to the souvenir shop and made purchases and then we made one last stop at Point Dora – sort of an observation area to get a good look into North Korea.
I want to stress that the visit this time was no different from any of my other dozens of other visits here. It’s “life as usual” on the Peninsular….kind of nice to get away from all the Media Hype in the states. At no time did anyone feel like we were not “safe”. All the guys thanked me for a momentous day and the incredible opportunity to be able to see the things we saw on the tours today.
We arrived back at Camp Casey at around 5:30 pm and I worked until almost 7:30 pm. Then I walked over and grabbed a quick meal and got back to work again.
Tomorrow is the first full band show at Camp Casey. The decision had to be made today to move it from the parking lot to an indoor venue since there is a prediction of 100% chance of rain all day tomorrow. The weather is probably the nicest I’ve ever had in Korea in the Summer time. Usually it is blistering hot and humid. It was around 80 degrees today and cloudy. It was actually so cold in my room last night, I had to sleep in socks. There’s no “heat” in any of the buildings until they turn it back on sometime in October! They can’t have both air conditioning and heat available at the same time in most of the buildings. 😊
THURSDAY, AUGUST 17TH – PERFORMANCE AT CAMP CASEY:
Immediately after posting my “road report” last night, I got the sad news that my dear friend Jo Walker-Meador has passed away. Jo is the very first person at the Country Music Association who ever supported me and my “international” tours. She was 93 years old and still as smart and witty as ever. Over the past couple of years, I picked her up and had lunch with her whenever my busy schedule allowed. Of course, now I wish I had not been so busy and spent even more time with her. May she rest in peace. She will be missed by so many people around the world whose lives she touched.
I went to bed by 12:30 am and woke up at 4:30 am. Decided to go ahead and get up and not try to grab any more sleep. Gave me a chance to answer some emails before the Nashville office closed. I’m sure I will feel great around show time tonight! ☹
Met Chase, John and Cody in the lobby at 10 am for the trip to Camp Hovey.
The guys got to ride around in tanks mounted with howitzers and then returned to fire these huge guns – 70 ml canons (blanks, of course). They had a “blast” thanks to Colonel Erringer and his men and women.
We joined the musicians and crew for lunch at the Golf Course. They had a Mexican buffet set up or we could order from the menu. We took Chase back to lodging and the musicians and crew to the venue. I stayed with them until time to pick Chase up for the AFN interview. He breezed through that and then I went back to the venue because I had a call saying there were electrical problems. Evidently, the production company did not bring the correct type of transformers and when Chase’s guys plugged in, it blew up one of their pieces of equipment. The electrician came by but the only “fix” was to find long extension cords and plug into the U.S. power outlets in the wall because the Production Company did not have the right transformers. I thought everything was back on track but when the musicians took the stage, the production company had wired everything incorrectly. They had received the input list well in advance so not sure why this happened. I’ve used this production company for decades and never had these problems. We are using them for this show and as well as our last show but I had to contact the last camp where we will perform and warn them of the issues.
The musicians barely had time to rush back to the hotel and change into their show clothes before going on stage. There were about 400 people in attendance which is great considering it is a Thursday night and people have to work tomorrow. Also, the population of this base is one-half what it was a few months ago. All the troops have been moved from here down to Camp Humphreys.
A dear friend of mine who I met in Iraq many years ago – Colonel Kurt Pinkerton – emailed me that his son Jason was in Korea for a 9 month deployment. I was able to communicate with him by Facebook and he came to the show. He looks just like his Dad. I introduced him to Chase and took photos of them. He stayed for the show and afterwards said he loved it. His Dad reminded me that I am now providing entertainment to the “second generation”. Jason was 9 years old when I met his Dad in Iraq. That is unbelievable to me!
Even with all the stress of the technical problems, Chase and the guys had a fantastic show. He has lots of audience participation and the young men and women loved his music. He signed autographs after the concert for everyone in line. We had dinner immediately after he finished and I was back in the room working by 11 pm.
It was truly a wonderful day for Chase and the guy and the men and women serving at Camp Casey. Our hosts – Mike, Mr. Chong and Elmer and all their staff have been excellent hosts. We drive to Osan Air Base tomorrow for our second show.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 18TH – PERFORMANCE AT OSAN AIR BASE:
So, I was trying to finish up emails and get in bed this morning and at 2:30 am, I spilled a bottle of water on my laptop! Tried to dry it up quickly and even used the hair dryer on it. But strange things started happening when I typed, so at 3 am, I was forced to shut down, go to bed, and pray it would dry out and be okay this morning.
I got up at 6:30 am and immediately turned on the computer. My prayers were answered. All is good!
Exercise on this tour has been non-existent. All I do is work all night, sleep a couple of hours, and work all day. This time difference is killing me!
Showered and met the guys in the lobby for departure at 10:45 am. We perform at Osan Air Base tonight but they don’t have rooms for us at their on-base lodge. We have to store our luggage at the venue all day and until after the show. Then pack everything up and drive to Camp Humphreys – about 30 minutes away – to spend the night.
It was a 2 hour drive and we arrived exactly on schedule. We used the Green Room to store all our luggage. First on the agenda was lunch with some of the men and women deployed to Osan. Unfortunately, the tables had been set up in a “square” and the military attending were told to sit on one side which placed us sitting across from them except for 2 people who were sitting next to one person on each end. I made sure I was one of those 2 people. Everyone was so nice and I got to talk to them about where they were from, how long they have served and their futures in the service. It was truly a real treat for all of us. Chase took photos with each person and signed autographs.
After lunch, the crew started load-in and I went with Chase, John, and Cody for a “squadron” visit. They had an up-close visit with the “Wart Hog” as well as visited the “maintenance” group and Chase did a little welding. It was a really interesting experience for the guys. I was telling one of the people we were visiting where the show was going to be held tonight and that it would begin at 8 pm. Someone corrected me and said it was going to start at 9 pm which was a surprise to me. This is going to make for a very long night, very little sleep, a long drive to Kunsan followed by a very long day with sound check and a concert tomorrow night.
The guys did an extra long sound check and we moved dinner to later since we had so much time to fill. While we were eating, the Base Commander (Colonel Bess) came by to say hello with the Command Chief (Hudson). What nice guys they both were! Really enjoyed meeting them and talking with them. CC Hudson was able to stay for the concert and we really appreciated that.
Chase took the stage to a packed house and rocked it for 90 minutes. The problem was, doors had opened at 5 pm for a 9 pm show and everyone had of course been drinking that entire time. Our hosts had not arranged any security for the show. At one point, one of Chase’s techs had to come backstage and get me because he was afraid someone was going to get injured near one of the lighting poles. Then, a very drunk guy in the audience began flipping off the band and Chase while they were performing! Chase handled the situation like a pro. He called the guy up on stage and tried to talk to him instead of pounding him to a pulp. We thought he had succeeded until the guy flipped everyone off as he was leaving the stage! Finally, someone with the military escorted him out of the Club.
At the end of Chase’s show, he always stays on the stage and shake hands and signs articles for people who are positioned in front of the stage. The musicians are still performing while he does this and this is basically his “encore” instead of singing another song. While he was doing this, a guy handed him a ring box. Chase thought he wanted him to sign it. Instead the guy wanted to propose to his girlfriend on stage. It happened but would have been much better if we had been “warned” that this was planned. At least she said “yes”! 😊
The autograph line was very long and it was midnight before we were able to depart to Camp Humphreys. We had already been checked into lodging and had our room keys. But, there was a shift change at the gate and since we didn’t have ID cards, had to wait about 30 minutes just to get cleared.
The entertainers I work with on these tours could make more money in one weekend in the USA than they do performing for the military. They agree to do these tours because they want to express their appreciation to everyone serving and hopefully bring them a few hours of fun. It’s unusual for someone to have consumed so much alcohol that they are disrespectful to the entertainer and their musicians. But, even more disrespectful is for the civilian employee hosting entertainment for this area to tell me that “It doesn’t seem like we are doing this for the ‘right reasons’ because we need on-base lodging”. Them’s fightin’ words for an Alabama Redneck defending her “babies”. I’ve brought entertainment to Osan AB for decades and never experienced anything like this visit. Hopefully, future entertainers won’t either because this reflects on the entire region.
I had planned to go to bed immediately but ended up talking to AFE until 3 am.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 19TH – PERFORMANCE AT KUNSAN AIR BASE:
So, this entire tour I have done nothing but brag to Chase and his guys about how fantastic their visit will be to The Wolf Pack at Kunsan. I had absolutely no doubt that I was exaggerating because I’ve been bringing entertainment here since 1999! Jumping ahead of myself, this visit met and exceeded all their expectations.
We departed Osan AB at 9 am and arrived exactly on time at 12 noon at Kunsan. As usual, we had a “welcoming” party by The Wolf (Colonel Shoemaker who I met a few years ago with Darryl Worley when Lt. General Dolan was a Colonel and the Wolf here), Wolf Chief, and various other members of the Wolf Pack. The Wolf and I remembered each other from Darryl’s visit and have been communicating via email. It was so wonderful to see him again and as “The Wolf”. I think for most F-16 pilots, this is the dream position during their career and something most of them aspire to be. Also, every Wolf I have met, has gone on to be a one, two, three or four star General. That’s the caliber of men serving in this position.
Everything was perfectly organized. Rooms were ready and we had about an hour before walking across the street for a great meal. Wolf and Wolf Chief joined us and Chase and his guys learned a lot about the Wolf Pack during the meal.
We had a couple of Squadron Visits after lunch for Chase, John, Cody and me. We were being driven in a van and the door jammed and wouldn’t shut. I was on the outside seat, so I jumped out to try and close it. It was slightly off track, so I pulled and pulled and it wouldn’t budge….until it did. It slammed shut on my arm and I honestly thought I was either going to throw up or pass out the pain was so intense. Fortunately, it wasn’t fractured. I think 4 different Medics looked at it. I got an ice pack and some Ibephophen and “soldiered” on. It’s going to be in technicolor tomorrow and is extremely swollen and painful.
Chase was treated to a “K-9” demonstration and got to “run from the dogs”. Then there was a “taser” demonstration. As part of the training, it’s common to be tasered “mildly” so you can understand what you are administering. A young airman had volunteered and we all watched the experience. Trust me, this was only a mild tasering but it was enough to convince me that I sure don’t want to ever experience this!
Chase and the guys went back to lodging to rest and I went to the stage to check out the situation. Everything was running smoothly because we have the same Production Company that we had at Osan. I had a couple of hours before dinner that I thought I could catch up on some work. Nope, Chase and his guys want to go into Seoul tomorrow after we get back to Humphreys. Since the “exercises” start tomorrow, the military aren’t allowed to leave the base. We need a military escort to go on and off base, so it was a challenge to figure out a way to get the guys into the City. I understand that they don’t want to come all the way to Korea and not even see Seoul. I would feel the same way if I had never been here. Fortunately, my dear friend Heather who I have worked with for decades, is the MWR contact here and she came to the rescue. The guys have a 15 passenger van with an English speaking tour guide to take them sightseeing from 2 pm until 10 pm tomorrow. Heather will go with them but I’m going to pass because of my arm. Plus, I need to WORK. It’s been a busy two days and I’m way behind on my “real job”!
We met the Wolf, Wolf 2, Viper, Falcon, Phoenix, and Hawk for dinner and it was so much fun! Lots of my guys didn’t make it because they needed to rest and shower for the show. But Chase was there and I think he really enjoyed his time with these special people.
We left for the concert immediately after dinner. There was a GREAT turn out! Chase and the guys gave another fantastic performance and it was obvious that this visit was a tremendous morale boost for everyone. Wolf presented Chase with a Wolf Pack plaque (I got mine years ago) after the concert. I can’t even begin to describe how totally awesome this visit was for everyone – Chase and his guys and The Wolf Pack! Thank you, AFE for making this possible.
There was a long line for autographs and photos and afterwards, everyone had been invited to go “Hooch Hopping”. I did this years ago but all I wanted to do after the show was go take drugs for my arm and get more than 3 hours of sleep! And, that’s exactly what I did! 😊
SUNDAY, AUGUST 20TH – TRAVEL FROM KUNSAN TO CAMP HUMPHREYS:
Everyone made it to the lobby for the 10 am bus call but some were still “recovering” from the Hooch Hopping last night. I know they all had a wonderful time! Wolf and Wolf Chief came by to see us off. Chase has decided to have Wolf Pack tee-shirts printed that say, “Never Book a Show the Day After Visiting the Wolf Pack” on the back. Thankfully, we don’t have a show today…just a travel day and sightseeing in Seoul for them.
We left on time and arrive Camp Humphreys at 12 noon. Heather had the tour bus and guides waiting. Only 9 of our 18 rooms were ready, so several of us had to “store” our luggage for a few hours. Jim, Adam and I rode with the Kunsan bus to the venue to drop off the equipment. We met Jasmin there and worked through some production issues for tomorrow night’s show. The base started their “exercises” today so military are not allowed to drink or leave the base. That will either help or hurt with the turn out tomorrow night!
Once my room became available, I got settled in and then walked across the street for a smoothie. It’s still sprinkling rain and making me very sleepy. But I managed to work for several hours and get somewhat “caught up”. Jim and I met Heather for dinner but we had to eat on base at Alaska Mining Company because Jim and I don’t have ID cards to get back on base. Had a nice visit with Heather and heard from the other guys who were out sightseeing. Sounds like they are having a fun time. They were eating Korean Bar-be-que and singing Karaoke when they called us. They were going to walk around Itaewon and then come back to lodging. I hate that I couldn’t go with them but I really HAD to work. Plus, my arm is still really sore and “ugly” so best that I stayed at Lodging.
Nothing on our agenda tomorrow until lunch at noon. If it’s not raining, I’m going for a run. If it’s raining, the gym is right across the street!
Can’t believe the tour is almost over. It’s gone by so incredibly fast. Working with Chase and his group has been awesome (as I knew it would from last year’s tour) and we’ve had record crowds at the bases we visited. Great tour!
MONDAY, AUGUST 21ST – CAMP HUMPHREYS – LAST CONCERT IN SOUTH KOREA:
Finallly, I slept more than 4 hours and still had time to exercise after waking up! It’s raining off and on again today and will continue to do so most of the day.
Adam went over to the venue at 8 am and met with the Production Company. He was able to leave the stage where we wanted it when we were there yesterday and he “thinks” Plan Sound understands what they require as far as wiring the system. Let’s hope we don’t have another “explosion” today. He and his crew will go back over there at 11 am to get set up.
Sounds like everyone had a fun time “sightseeing” and “shopping” and “eating” in Seoul yesterday! I am so glad Heather was able to make this happen. Many thanks to Lynda and Jasmin for being brave enough to escort my boys, too. 😊 The Korean tour guide told them it was the most fun she’s ever had on a tour that she has hosted. I seriously doubt she has ever hosted a “band” before.
Meeting the group for lunch at the DFAC at 11:45 am. We were originally scheduled to eat at Alaska Mining Company but felt it would be better to be able to eat at the DFAC and spend time with the men and women serving here. After lunch, Chase has to go to AFN for radio and tv interviews. Then, we are going to meet the Garrison Commander – Colonel Scott Mueller. My long time friend – Jason Meadows (who I met a LONG time ago in Iraq) knows him and told me Colonel Mueller also served as XO for Lt. General Sean MacFarland – also a long time friend.
There was some confusion when we left for lunch as we thought Chase was not going with us. When we arrived at the DFAC, there was a “welcoming committee” lined up to meet him. John rushed back to lodging to pick up Chase and bring him over. He took photos with the DFAC staff and several of the soldiers as well as ate lunch with them.
Next stop was Colonel Mueller’s office and he had a nice visit with him. Then he went by AFN for a short interview. The band was finishing up sound check and everyone had a couple of hours of “down time” before heading back over to the venue for the concert.
Crowd was much larger than we anticipated – over 400 people — considering the military isn’t allowed to drink during this “exercise”. There were lots of children in the audience, too. Chase and the guys delivered another spectacular concert and the crowd loved them. At one point, he brought some of the children up on stage and had them sing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”. It was definitely a “show-stealer”!
He signed autographs and took selfies from the stage for about 15 minutes and then signed and took photos with everyone in line. We had a really nice catered dinner backstage after the show. Compliments to the chef as this was one of the best meals ever on a military installation.
Many thanks to our wonderful hosts – Heather, Jasmin, Aubrie, Lorenzo, and Lynda – and everyone else working with them to make this visit flawless.
We were back at lodging before midnight and have a 1:00 pm lobby call to go to the airport and fly home tomorrow.
TUESDAY, AUGUST 22ND – FLYING BACK TO NASHVILLE:
Got plenty of sleep last night and was up at 5:30 am to check emails before offices closed down for the day in the USA. Still had time to exercise, shower, and work some more before meeting in the Lobby at 1:00 pm for a 1:30 pm departure. We made it to the airport in 1 hr 45 minutes rather than 2 hours. Not a lot of traffic on the roads today which was nice.
The Delta counter arranged a special section for us to check in our 33 pieces and 14 people. And, they accepted my Diamond Medallion Status which allows 8 people traveling with me to check the same number of pieces I am allowed – 3 pieces at 70 pounds each.
Once the bags were checked, everyone had to wait in the check-in counter for 10 minutes to see if they were going to call our name. They actually scan the checked bags and if there is anything “questionable”, the passenger is called back to the check-in counter. We only had one person called back.
It’s still about a 30 minute process to get to the gate area – go through Immigration, then security, and ride a tram to another terminal. I had a few minutes to shop for Zac and Zoe and drink coffee in the KAL Lounge. We boarded on time and it’s one of the older aircraft. Seats are much smaller and “things” don’t work as well – including the video monitor. I watched a really terrible movie, ate an even more terrible dinner, and then slept for several hours. Woke up and worked for a couple of hours, had breakfast and landed early.
We were scheduled to land in Atlanta at 7:30 pm and the next flight to Atlanta at the time we booked the flights was at 8:40 pm. We knew we’d never be able to clear Immigration, pick up the bags/equipment, clear customs, re-check the bags, go through Security, and get to the gate in another terminal in that amount of time. But, the 8:40 pm flight had a schedule change and wasn’t leaving until 9:06 pm. The Delta App showed a couple of seats still available on it, so Chase and John exited as quickly as possible to try and get on it. Nope. Sold out!
As we walked into the Immigration Area, there was a man telling all passengers to go to the left. There was a Global Entry Sign and I asked him if Global Entry was supposed to go to the left as well. He was very rude and answered, “I SAID all passengers”. So I went to the left and then there were no kiosks for Global Entry. The nice man at the Immigration Desk let me fill out the paper form and pass through.
Our bags started coming through quickly but only Jim and I had Global Entry and the other guys were stuck in a very long line trying to get to Baggage Claim. Everything except the oversize pieces came out on belt 11 and the oversize came out on belt 3. I stayed with the guys at 11 until Jim sent me a text that they had everything and to meet them at the Exit. We walked towards him but the Customs Officials wouldn’t let some of our guys wait until we could all meet up. They were forced to go through without us. Then several of them were pulled aside and sent to a room to wait for us. The Customs agent was arguing with us about needing a “Carnet”. We explained that everything was musical instruments – no amps or consoles – and that we had the appropriate registered forms – which we gave him. When they took us into the holding room, that agent went through the same process of telling us we needed a Carnet. Which we definitely do not. We have had serious problems with a carnet in the past because it’s necessary to have the Customs Office Stamp it every flight. When we had early morning departures, Customs wasn’t open sometimes and we couldn’t get the paperwork stamped. Then when we arrived back at the USA, we had problems with U.S. Customs trying to charge us because we couldn’t prove that we had transported all the equipment on the list back to the USA. A real “pain” to have to deal with! Atlanta is the only airport we ever have any issues with our equipment. Everyone there is an expert on what we should be doing, yet no one is correct about what is really required. I hate going through that airport except for the fact that it is so much more convenient.
We put our bags in the “re-check” area and then went through the “Priority” lane for the security check. The Priority Lane was about twice as long as the line for other passengers. By the time we finally went through, there was no one left in the entire area except us!
Since our flight doesn’t depart until 11:30 pm, we have a couple of hours to kill in Atlanta. I went to the Delta Lounge and worked some more.
Flight to Nashville left on time and landed on time. All our luggage and equipment arrived with us!
It was an awesome tour with incredible musicians and crew. Many thanks to Chase Rice and all the guys on the tour as well as our wonderful hosts at Camp Casey, Osan AB, Kunsan AB, and Camp Humphreys. Special thanks to Armed Forces Entertainment – especially Frank Tagatac (for all his PATIENCE) – in making this tour possible for the men and women and their families serving in South Korea!