Band of Brothers, 101st Airborne,  middle east tour.
As strong supporters of our men and women in uniform, Valor Studios, the USO, and the Band of Brothers veterans undertook our most daring military appreciation tour to date this past September: a visit to our soldiers, sailors and Marines in the Persian Gulf region!

Seeking to bring the Band of Brothers to meet the troops fighting in Iraq, Valor Studios teamed up with the well-known USO organization to make this visit possible. On September 10, 2008, “Band of Brothers” veterans Forrest Guth, Wild Bill Guarnere, Babe Heffron, Clancy Lyall, and Don Malarkey, along with several members of the Valor Studios staff, departed Washington D.C. for the ten day tour.

Upon arrival in Kuwait, the veteran’s went right to work with a special outdoor question and answer session at Camp Buehring, a large staging post for soldiers before they head north into Iraq. There, they entertained thousands of troops with stories of their adventures during World War II and even passed on some non-politically correct advice on how they would handle P.O.W.s.

Following the presentation, the veterans braved the intense heat and posed for photos with each soldier in attendance. The importance of this morale boosting visit was reinforced when the day after visiting the soldiers at Camp Buehring, a Chinook helicopter from that based crashed killing all on board, soldiers and flyers who were in the audience the day before.

The next day brought a visit to soldiers stationed at the massive Kuwaiti Ali Al Salem airfield. Here the veterans shock countless hands and signed autographs at several meet and greet sessions before getting ready for a C-130 flight into Iraq, where the vetererans were to be the guests of honor at General Petraeus’ change of command ceremony. After several delays because of an intense sand storm over Baghdad International Airport, our C-130 finally departed around midnight for Baghdad.

Once over Baghdad, we learned from the crew that the sandstorm had completely “socked-in” the area . . . and they had to return to Kuwait. Unfortunately for the tour, the sandstorm sat over Baghdad making further flights that week impossible. Though eager to meet with the 101st soldiers awaiting them in Iraq, the veterans took the bad news in stride and over the next few days continued to visit the staging bases and countless military personnel who, themselves, were delayed in their deployment due to the weather.

While the Band of Brothers and Valor Studios staff never made it into Iraq, this military appreciation tour was a tremendous success. Its impact is best summed up in a letter Valor Studios would later receive from an Army Captain stationed in Kuwait:

“I wanted to express my thanks, on behalf of the Service Members here in Kuwait, for your work to bring the Band of Brothers tour to Southwest Asia. Of all the entertainers I have seen, this was by far the best, most inspiring, group to visit the troops. I always take time to observe the reactions of the audience to every entertainment group and what I saw last week was phenomenal. I saw young and old(er) Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen, and Coast Guardsmen stand in awe of legends within the brotherhood of arms. I felt honored and privileged to be a small part of these events.”
Wild Bill Guarnere and Edward Babe Heffron
The night before our 17 hour flight to Kuwait City, we were visited by famed actor
and USO supporter Gary Sinise of Forrest Gump and CSI: New York fame!
Babe Heffron and Wild Bill Guarnere
Wild Bill Guarnere and Babe Heffron with Gary.
Forrest Guth, Don Malarkey, Wild Bill Guarnere and Babe Heffron
Gary Sinise and actress Karri Tuner (JAG) visited the Valor Studios going away dinner. L-R: Forrest Guth, Karri Tuner, Babe Heffron, Wild Bill Guarnere, Gary Sinise, Don Malarkey, Erica and Adam Makos.
The view of a Persian Gulf patrol boat from our Radisson hotel.
Another shot of the beach front skyline.
Babe Heffron, Don Malarkey, Forrest Guth, Wild Bill Guarnere, Buck Taylor and Clancy Lyall
Tour participants (L-R) Babe Heffron, Don Malarkey, Bryan Makos (Valor Studios), Forrest Guth, Wild Bill Guarnere, Buck Taylor, Clancy Lyall and Robert Makos (Valor Studios), in the lobby of the Radisson hotel in Kuwait City.
A piece of commemorative art that will not be published by Valor Studios!
The last thing we expected to find in the "desert" of Kuwait City - this replica trading ship at the National Martime museum!
The Kuwaiti monument to their martyrs and POWs from Gulf War I.
101st Airborne veterans Babe Heffron and Wild Bill Guarnere
Babe Heffron and Wild Bill Guarnere meet and greet a handful of the soldiers, sailors and Marines awaiting their rotation north into Iraq at Ali Al Salem air base in Kuwait.
Clancy Lyall and Buck Taylor visit with a soldier.
101st Airborne vet Forrest Guth
Forrest Guth and an eager listener.
Band of Brothers vet Don Malarkey
Don Malarkey shows his thanks.
Band of Brothers veterans Wild Bill Guarnere and Clancy Lyall
"Wild Bill" Guarnere continues to earn his nickname!
Band of Brothers veterans in Kuwait
The Band of Brothers veterans and a gun truck at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait.
Easy Company veterans Wild Bill Guarnere and Babe Heffron
Wild Bill Guarnere, Babe Heffron and Clancy Lyall.
The Band of Brothers
The Band of Brothers were a hit at each base they dropped by.
The Band of Brothers in a C-130
Packed into a roasting C-130 for the midnight flight into Baghdad. Babe Heffron commented that he would rather have taken a C-47! The veterans preferred not to wear their kevlar vests! Left row: Bryan Makos (Valor Studios), Babe Heffron, Wild Bill Guarnere, Don Malarkey, Buck Tyalor and Clancy Lyall. Right row: Forrest Guth.
Easy Company soldiers Buck Taylor and Clancy Lyall
Buck Taylor and Clancy Lyall prepare for one last mission.
Wild Bill Guarnere and Don Malarkey
Wild Bill Guarnere and Don Malarkey.
Band of Brothers veterans Forrest Guth
Forrest Guth and Bob Makos (Valor Studios).
Wild Bill Guarnere Autograph
Wild Bill Guarnere and Babe Heffron left their marks where ever they went!
Wild Bill autograph
The largest Wild Bill Guarnere autograph we've ever seen.
Band of Brothers autographs
Hopefully the future passengers on this bus are Band of Brothers fans!
Each Q&A session we presented was packed with soldiers, sailors, and airmen. Here the veterans speak at Camp Patriot in Kuwait.
After each Q&A session the troops had a chance for autographs and photos.
Wild Bill Guarnere
Wild Bill discovered a great place for his security tag.
Another successful meet and greet session! This time at the command center for all US Military logistical operations in the Middle East.
In his typical generous style, Wild Bill Guarnere gave this soldier the shirt right off his back!
Babe Heffron and Wild Bill Guarnere
Babe Heffron and Wild Bill Guarnere meet with injured soldiers at Camp Arifjan.
Band of Brothers veteran Don Malarkey
Don Malarkey greets an injured soldier. Wild Bill would later challenged her to a race.
Easy Company Band of Brothers