Lt. Dan tours C-17, plays JBLM Freedom Fest

By Airman Leah Young/62nd Airlift Wing on July 7, 2011

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash.  -- Actor Gary Sinise has a long list of ties to America's military and its veterans. While he's never served, Sinise is probably best known for his role as Lt. Dan Taylor, a disabled Vietnam veteran in the Oscar-winning movie "Forrest Gump."

However, the movie star did not visit Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., in search of a box of chocolates. On July 4, Sinise and his family toured a 62nd Airlift Wing C-17 Globemaster III, and spoke with several Airmen about their careers and hometowns.

"I make it a priority to thank those who are sacrificing for the good of the country," said Sinise. "These brave men and women deserve the best."

Later that day, Sinise and his 12-member Lt. Dan Band played at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord Fourth of July Freedom Fest on as part of a short tour which included shows at Fort Rucker, Ala., and Naval Base Kitsap, Wash.

Sinise has supported the military through United Service Organization tours since 2003, visiting military bases around the world.

"Over the years, I've spent a lot of time with the military," said Sinise. "I am always reminded what it takes to preserve our freedom."

Sinise and the band have traveled around the world to show their respect for American troops in Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Belgium, Afghanistan, United Kingdom and Germany. Sinise has also visited military bases with USO tours to Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, United Arab Emirates and Italy.

"We weren't able to make it overseas this summer," said Sinise. "So, we're planning to visit as many bases as possible."

The band averages 30 to 40 shows a year, the majority of them for USO tours, charities or benefits, according to the group's website. Sinise says performing for servicemembers is the least he can do.

"It's a dangerous world out there, and we're always going to deploy somebody some place," said Sinise. "Unfortunately, there's always going to be a need for that. So as long as there's a need for defenders of freedom, we should back them up and do everything we can to let them know that we appreciate what they do for us and don't take it for granted."