Robin Williams Entertains U.S. Troops in Afghanistan

Robin Williams entertains U.S. troops in Afghanistan (CNN)

Robin Williams poses for pictures with U.S. soldiers at military base at Bagram, north of Kabul.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.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. SFC Ski says:

    MR. Williams visited Baghdad last year, and gave several free performances. He also came into the dining facility and walked around shaking hands and signing autographs and posing for pictures with those present, all very casual and sincere. HE even made some jokes with the Polish soldiers who also recognized him, of course. Last night he gave a free performance at an airbase here in Germany.

    Whether the performers come and perform for us or just visit and shake hands, it really does mean a lot to the soldiers when we are deployed. Drew Carey and Gary Sinise are 2 others who have made several trips to Iraq. Bruce Willis even brought a band and performed out in Western Iraq, which is the equivalent of Podunk. All those artists have my deepest thanks for coming out to keep our spirits up.