Robin Williams Entertains U.S. Troops in Afghanistan
As head of the joint chiefs of staff, Gen. Richard Myers usually doesn’t have to take a back seat to anyone — except when U.S. troops make up the audience and comedian Robin Williams is on stage. American forces serving at Bagram air base got a little early Christmas cheer Thursday as Myers and Williams — along with football star John Elway, model/sports commentator Leann Tweeden and comedian Blake Clark — stopped by on a tour of American servicemen serving far from home.
The activities got off to a somber start with a groundbreaking ceremony for a coffee shop to be named after Pat Tillman, who quit the NFL to be an Army Ranger and died in a friendly-fire incident April 22. All except Williams wore white hard hats and fatigues as they jointly shoveled spadefuls of dirt with about 100 soldiers taking pictures. Tillman gave up a million-dollar contract and his position as a starting safety for the Arizona Cardinals to enlist after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Elway said he didn’t know Tillman, but told the troops: “It had to be a huge thing for Pat to walk away to come over here and join forces with you. I’m totally humbled by the work that you do. “In my mind he’s a hero. You’re all heroes.”
Myers said people who claimed that the Afghan people would want American forces to leave quickly had been proven wrong, citing President Hamid Karzai’s commitment to a long-term “strategic partnership.” The coffee shop “will probably be here some time, even though we may not be here in large numbers.”
On the walk over to a tent for the day’s entertainment, troops sought autographs on paper, hats, dollar bills — anything that would hold ink — and photos taken with the visiting celebrities. Many clutched copies of FHM magazine with a scantily Tweeden on the cover. The wolf whistles shrieked as she served as the announcer.
It was Williams’ second trip to Bagram, and he described how conditions have changed. “It’s a lot like Palm Springs, except for the mines and the small-weapons fire,” he quipped in one of the few lines that can be quoted here.
A very decent gesture that I’m sure was appreciated. Williams provides a classic example of it indeed being possible to “support the troops” but oppose the war.