(L) The outdoor “Wonder Bra” amphitheater. (R) Our point of contact, Les Whitehead.
March 16, Qatar, 16:22 (4:22 pm)
We’ve been in the country for about twelve hours, having taken a brutal 7 hour C130 ride from Bagram. The plane was packed with about 16 passengers and plenty of cargo, so it is was difficult to get comfortable, let alone sleep. Bleary eyed, we were greeted by Sgt. Les Whitehead, our Point of Contact here at Al Udeid Air Base.
After a few hours of rest, we went to breakfast and then walked around the base a bit. This place is quite impressive, equipped with top notch exercise facilities, an outdoor amphitheater where we will perform this evening, and even a movie theater! Many soldiers seek this destination as a place to enjoy a few days of R&R.
Like everything else we’ve seen, the logistical effort to run such an operation is astounding. For example, it takes a monthly budget of $2.8 Million to feed the 6,000 soldiers who reside at or travel through Al Udaid!
We just met up with Daniel Cook, the Coordinator for Armed Forces Entertainment in charge of scheduling all of South West Asia. Daniel has worked with Spencer, John, and Todd during past tours, and he really enjoys the performances. The response to this year’s shows continues to be extremely positive, and he is already talking about scheduling a return tour in 2006.
In the meantime, this year’s schedule continues to be fluid. We learned this morning that we are not, in fact, going to Djibouti. The available air transportation won’t support the journey. We could likely get there, but then would have a difficult time returning to Qatar to catch the next flight. So, after performances tonight and tomorrow, we will head to Kuwait earlier than expected, and we will perform additional engagements at the local bases there. One thing is for certain, there is no shortage of need for entertainment.