Gary Sinise, Lt Dan Band add flair to Fourth of July
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION FUTENMA, OKINAWA, Japan -- Hit song after hit song from both the past and present were performed in the summer night air, as the large audience cheered louder and louder.
Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band performed covers of popular songs July 6 on the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma flight line.
The concert was part of a USO and TriWest Healthcare Alliance-sponsored tour of U.S. military bases throughout Japan.
“Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band have been touring with us for about nine years now and have done over 130 shows,” said Sloan D. Gibson, USO president and CEO. “The USO’s mission is to lift the spirits of America’s troops, and entertainment is a big part of that. So, when the opportunity presented itself to come back to Okinawa and bring the band back to entertain service members and their families, we were excited.”
The creation of the Lt. Dan Band began with the USO and Sinise, according to Sinise, an actor known for his roles in CSI: NY and Forrest Gump. Sinise began touring with the USO in 2003 for meet and greets. After nine tours, he asked the USO if he could bring some musician friends to perform for the troops.
“Every time I did a tour, I would ask (if I could perform for the troops),” said Sinise. “Finally they said okay, and they trusted me even though they had never heard the band play. We performed for all kinds of military charities and donated the band performances for different events.”
For Sinise, it was important that the troops understand the main mission of the band is to show appreciation and gratitude for their sacrifices and service.
“I’m coming out here because I want them to know that we’re not forgetting about them,” said Sinise. “I want all of our troops to know that they’re appreciated. We’re thinking about you always and what you do in the defense of freedom around the world.”
This was the second time the USO had sponsored the Lt. Dan Band on Okinawa; the first time was in 2009.
“Okinawa is a very important place for the U.S. (to be stationed at) and for the Marine Corps in particular,” said Gibson. “We know that we’ve got to get out and send that message of thanks.”
Sinise’s efforts also include a foundation that is dedicated to honoring and supporting service members, veterans and first responders, according to Sinise.
The USO is a partner in many of the Gary Sinise Foundation’s projects.
The relationship between the USO and Sinise is based on a mutual respect for the sacrifices of American service members and their families, according to Gibson.
“Our mission is to lift the spirit of America’s troops and their families,” said Gibson. “The way we do that is to say ‘thanks’ from America. Every time you see the USO logo somewhere, whether it’s the side of a building or in the backdrop of a bandstand or on the shirt of a volunteer, know that America is saying thanks.”
Sinise agrees that showing gratitude for the service of the Marines and their families on Okinawa is important.
“We know you’re away from your families and your homes for long periods of time, sometimes to war zones and other dangerous places,” said Sinise. “We come out to remind you that people care and are grateful and appreciative. We want to give you some entertainment and show you some love; it’s a way that I can serve (the troops).”