Although Aaron Tippin has never served in the military, his songs are veterans of three wars.
Topeka radio station 94 Country brings Tippin to entertain Saturday night at Forbes Field as part of Family Freedom Days, which also will feature shows Saturday and Sunday afternoons by the Navy Blue Angels.
Tippin, 44, came on the country music scene in 1990 when the United States was preparing for the first Gulf War. Tippin, the son of an Air Force pilot, had released as his first single a patriotic song, "You've Got to Stand for Something."
Tippin found himself invited to sing the song for Allied troops in Saudi Arabia where they were preparing for Operation Desert Storm, the war to liberate Kuwait from Saddam Hussein's invasion. The headliner for that USO show was Bob Hope, and Tippin still considers the event one of the highlights in his career.
Tippin would go on to record other hit songs: "There Ain't Nothin' Wrong With the Radio," "Working Man's Ph.D.," "That's As Close As I'll Get to Loving You" and "Kiss This."
However, it was during a new kind of war -- the war on terrorism -- that Tippin's music again proved timely.
Tippin had co-written and recorded a song, "Where the Stars and Stripes and the Eagle Fly," two years before terrorists attacked American on Sept. 11, 2001. Tippin and his label, Lyric Street Records, decided to release the song as a single and donate their proceeds to the Red Cross and its relief efforts for the families of 9-11 victims.
Tippin in a telephone interview Wednesday morning said the song, which peaked at No. 2 on country charts in January 2002, did more than raise about $250,000 for the Red Cross.
"I think it served kind of as a healing song, I think, for some of us," he said. "At least it did for myself. I know it made me feel better."
And when President Bush decided to liberate Iraq, Tippin and "Where the Stars and Stripes and the Eagle Fly" joined the effort.
Over the Thanksgiving holiday, Tippin again joined a USO show that entertained troops in Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan and Qatar.
Tippin was warned he was going into more hostile zones than he had experienced a dozen years earlier in Saudi Arabia, but he decided it was his duty to go.
"I ain't never had to dodge a bullet, so it's the least I could do to support my country," said Tippin who also performed April 12 at the Rally for the Troops, Rally for America demonstration in Washington, D.C. "We wanted to show our support for the troops and the war effort."
Reaction to Tippin's patriotic songs remains strong because country music fans are "very patriotic."
"That's what I think, but I don't know. You might ask the Dixie Chicks that question," said Tippin, referring to the Texas trio who caused some fan backlash when member Natalie Mains told a London audience on March 10: "Just so you know, we're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas."
Coincidentally, the Dixie Chicks will perform a concert at Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Mo., the same night as Tippin performs in Topeka. The Dixie Chicks' show is sold out.
Tippin said 9-11 was responsible for another track on his current album, "Stars and Stripes," which was released Sept. 10, 2002, on the eve of the first anniversary of the attacks.
Given the amount of travel he does, Tippin, a former commercial pilot, and his wife, Thea, began thinking about how his life could end in an instant and how they should always keep that in mind. The Tippins co-wrote and recorded "Love Like There's No Tomorrow," which is the current single off of "Stars and Stripes."
Tippin said he spends as much time as possible with his wife and their two sons, Thomas, 2, and Teddy, 5, whose recorded voice introduced his shows by saying the Pledge of Allegiance then saying, "Ladies and gentlemen, the hardest-working man in country music, my daddy, Aaron Tippin!"
Tippin, an avid hunter, said much of what he plants on his 400-acre farm is to attract and feed wildlife.
"I don't do any more livestock because I made up my mind if I'm going to get up at 4 o'clock in the morning to chase something, it wasn't going to be to put it back in the pen. It was going to be to shoot it," Tippin said.
For the past few years, Tippin also has tried his hand at winemaking, saying his wife is "Greek so her family turned me on to wine."
"This year, I'm trying a bold red out of muscadine," he said.
So if someone caught Tippin backstage with his boots and socks off would they discover this red-white-and-blue country star had feet purple from stomping grapes for wine?
Nope, he replied with hearty laugh.
"Believe me, you don't want my feet in wine," he said. "I don't want my feet in wine."