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Dec. 10, 2002:  Aaron Tippin, his band and crew safely returned to the U.S. after entertaining troops on a Thanksgiving USO tour in Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Qatar.

"We did it like the grunts," said Tippin.  "We slept in tents, we ate in the mess hall and really got to see the conditions our troops are living in over there, and it's tough.  One of coolest things I experienced, as a pilot, was watching 'em fly a plane with no lights on just with night vision goggles It was really different."

Although Tippin missed Thanksgiving with his family (Tippin left Nov. 23), he did get to have a turkey dinner in Pakistan with General Tommy Franks, Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Central Command.  After dinner, Tippin performed an acoustic set for Franks and the troops, including his hit single, "Where The Stars And Stripes And The Eagle Fly."

According to Tippin, this was one of the major highlights of the trip.  "The General has nothing but love for the ones he loves," said Tippin.  "But he's go nothing but hell for the ones who don't love the ones he loves."

Franks showed his appreciation by giving him a commemorative Bowie knife.

Tippin et al all arrived safely back on U.S. soil at about 1 a.m. Thursday.  After their last show, Tippin and gang were detained in Qatar while trying to pass through customs to leave the country.  Apparently customs had no record of any of them entering the country and wasn't too happy about letting them leave without the proper paperwork.

Instead of being sent back to the military base, they were detained in a civilian hotel room for 24 hours.  They were finally released and flew home to the US, arriving home almost two full days late.  A few hours after arriving back in Nashville, Tippin headed straight into the studio for a 98 station satellite radio tour, completing over 90 radio interviews in a 48-hour period.

"The further you go, the better the good old USA gets," Tippin said.

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Jeffrey B. Remz, Editor & Publisher

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Dec 10, 2002

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