Warriors Receive Comic Relief On Deployment
(September 21, 2010)
FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARHORSE, Iraq (Sept. 18, 2010) – Laughter fills the
Faulkenberg Theater at Forward Operating Base Warhorse, Iraq, and echoes off the
thin wooden walls as the man on stage spouts jokes about the humorous aspects of
his relationship with his wife, the late-night menu at Taco Bell and Justin
Timberlake. His witty punch lines have the crowd in an uproar, granting him a
thunderous round of applause at the end of his routine.|
Derek Vana, a stand-up comedian from New Hope, Pa., was part of a comic trio
that toured several forward operating bases in Iraq during the month of
September, putting on shows for soldiers from 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade,
25th Infantry Division, for the sole purpose of entertaining troops and
helping them enjoy an evening despite being deployed.
Lone Wolf Entertainment, an entertainment booking company out of Dickinson,
Texas, hired Scott White and Bill Dykes from Houston, and Derek Vana to come
to Iraq to provide comic relief to deployed soldiers. The three comedians
submitted tapes of their routines to the entertainment agency, and after
review, Lone Wolf Entertainment booked them for the tour.
Dykes enjoys performing for deployed troops. He is a VETERAN of Iraq, as his
Three comedians display their certificates of appreciation presented by Lt. Col. Scott Murray, the battalion commander for 225th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, following their performances at the Faulkenberg Theater on Forward Operating Base Warhorse, Iraq on Sept. 12,
2010. The trio brought their routines to several forward operating bases in Iraq for deployed soldiers.
passport would indicate, and a FOB Warhorse alumnus.
“Our whole reason for coming out here was the soldiers,” Dykes said. “It's
definitely not for the sight-seeing.”|
“I've been here actually, this venue at FOB Warhorse, two and a half years ago,”
he said. “I recognized it at the dining facility when I saw the Stevie Ray
Vaughn room I'm like, ‘That's where we ate!'”
When the comedians are not performing for troops, they do the same thing
stateside for their civilian audiences, minus the body armor and Blackhawk
helicopter transportation. Though their duties are not as life-threatening, the
comics can relate to soldiers in that their jobs require them to travel and
occasionally take their routines on the road. Each of them deals with separation
from family and friends as soldiers do, though on a much smaller scale.
“It's not so hard for me being away because my wife and I are used to text
messages, phone calls, e-mails, stuff like that,” Vana said. “The accessibility
in the states is really easy, I can always text her, I can always call her.”
“I have a cat, and he gets pretty mad when I leave him for long periods of
time,” Dykes said.
Though Dykes' support may come in the form of feline companionship, he had a few
words of encouragement for soldiers experiencing difficulty with the separation
from loved ones back in America.
“Despite the distance, people are still there with you, and it's hard to
remember when that connection is so spaced out, but it's still there,” he said.
“You just have to value the fact that you have it and hold onto that as opposed
to thinking in the moment.”
Vana served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1998 to 2001, and though he may not
have served during Operations Iraqi Freedom or Enduring Freedom, he shed some
light on the issue of separation from a different perspective.
“It's almost as hard for families back home as it is for the soldiers here too,”
he said. “Soldiers here have their family, their platoon, their company.”
“For people back home, it might just be them, they just have their small group
of friends,” he added.
Soldiers filed out of the theater following the conclusion of the show, still
laughing about various jokes told throughout the night. Despite the fact that
being deployed is no laughing matter, soldiers still managed to relax and enjoy
Article and photo by Army Spc. Robert Michael England
2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division
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