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Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band held free concert for the soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division

USOFort Campbell, KY – Actor, Director, and Musician Gary Sinise visited Fort Campbell with the Lieutenant (LT.) Dan Band to Entertain the Soldiers and their Families on Saturday.

Morale, Welfare and RecreationThe Concert was put on by the USO with the assistance and coordination of the Fort Campbell MWR and sponsored by the TriWest Healthcare Alliance, a Department of Defense contractor that provides access to health care for military families.

Sinise is perhaps best known for his roles as Lt. Dan in Forrest Gump, Astronaut Ken Mattingly in Apollo 13, along with playing Detective Mac Taylor in the wildly popular Crime Scene Investigations TV franchise.

Gary Sinise was at Fort Campbell, KY on Saturday to entertain the soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division, and their families
Gary Sinise was at Fort Campbell, KY on Saturday to entertain the soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division, and their families

Gary Sinise was born in Blue Island, Illinois but moved to Highland Park during his high school years. It was during this time frame that Sinise developed his love of acting. He also started performing in local bands.

After high school Sinise became one of the founding members of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company where he honed his acting and directing talents. He is a three-time Tony-nominee, twice for acting in Steppenwolf’s productions of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and The Grapes of Wrath and once for Best Director of Buried Child. Sinise has also directed some of Steppenwolf’s most notable productions, including Orphans, the Viet Nam veteran drama Tracers and Sam Shepard’s True West, which he later performed with John Malkovich in Steppenwolf’s New York debut and received an Obie award for directing.

Sinise’s TV and film career really began to take off in the 1990’s with him landing roles in The Big Bounce; The Human Stain, A Gentleman’s Game, Imposter, Mission to Mars, Reindeer Games, The Green Mile, It’s the Rage, Bruno, Snake Eyes, Ransom, Albino Alligator, Apollo 13, The Quick and the Dead, Forrest Gump, Jack the Bear, Of Mice and Men, and A Midnight Clear; and he continues to extremely popular today. Sinise has been nominated for the Oscar, Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild Award, and Chicago Film Critics Association Award, for his role in Forrest Gump. He also won an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a mini-series or dramatic special for portraying George Wallace.

A few years after his role in Forrest Gump, Sinise was at the Steppenwolf Theater to play the role of Stanley Kowalski in Tennessee Williams’ A Street Car Named Desire. Kimo Williams had been hired by Steppenwolf Theatre director Terry Kinney to compose the score for the production. It was during the technical rehearsals for the play that Sinise and Williams began to discuss their love for music and after learning of Sinise’s talent on the bass, Williams began to invite him to his home for jam sessions. Over the next few years, whenever possible, these two pals would play together with other Chicago area musicians whenever possible. These jam sessions would later lead to the formation of the Lt. Dan Band.

In 2003, Sinise began what has became his “extraordinary commitment” to the USO. “I have veterans on both sides of my family and began working with veterans groups in the Chicago area in the early 80’s. And I’d played veterans in a few movies, of course, but it was really after 9/11 that I felt this need to get involved with our active duty services. So I called up the USO and joined a few handshake tours. It wasn’t long before I wanted to do more.” said Sinese. Since that time he enhanced the lives of approximately 150,000 troops stationed in the U.S., as well as in Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Belgium, Afghanistan, the United Kingdom and Germany. “Time is the most valuable thing you can donate and I am grateful that I’m able to find the time to give back to the men and women who serve this country,” Sinise said. “They deserve so much and performing with the USO is an awesome way for me and the band to let them know we appreciate their service.”

After a few trips overseas to meet the troops, Sinise asked the USO about the possibility of taking a band along with him on his USO tours, and they thought it would be a great idea. This lead to the creation of the Lt. Dan Band. The band soon began rehearsing under the direction of Kimo Williams and in February of 2004, The band hit the road on their first overseas USO tour to Korea, Singapore and Diego Garcia. Since those early sessions at Kimo’s house, a few gigs for the troops in the Chicago area in 2003, and that first overseas tour, Gary and the band have played an average of 30-40 shows per year with a good 75% of those shows for USO, charities or benefits.

Sinise joined with author Laura Hillenbrand (Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption; Seabiscuit: An American Legend) in 2004 to found Operation International Children. Sinise and Hillenbrand created OIC to give concerned citizens of the world a way to reach out to children in war-stricken countries and at the same time support American troops in their efforts to assist them. They have since expanded the mission of the organization to help children of war torn nations around the globe. “Every time a box of school supplies is delivered by our troops it will be another small victory for them in helping win hearts and minds,” says Sinise. “It is a beautiful way to begin a relationship with the future leaders of Iraq, Afghanistan and other war-torn nations. They have been forgotten for so long. Now there is a chance for them.”

For his work with the military, Sinise was awarded the 2008 Presidential Citizens Medal, the second highest civilian honor in the United States..

The Lt. Dan Band covers everything from Stevie Wonder and Jimi Hendrix classics to contemporary songs by Kelly Clarkson, Evanescence, Beyonce, Lonestar, the Zac Brown Band and much much more. Even tunes from the 40’s big band era. There’s something for everyone and each show highlights the musical diversity of the band, as well as the passion and energy each member brings to the stage. Whether performing for troops overseas or a local club crowd, the goal is to have fun and rock the house!

The band features:

  • Kimo Williams – Electric Guitar, Vocals,
  • Gary Sinise – Electric Bass
  • Dan Myers – Vocals, Violin
  • Kirk Garrison – Trumpet
  • Jeff Vezain – Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
  • Mitch Paliga – Saxophone
  • Mari Anne Jayme – Vocals
  • Ernie Denov – Electric Guitar
  • Danny Gottlieb – Drums
  • Julie Dutchak – Vocals
  • Ben Lewis – Keyboards
  • Beth Gottlieb – Percussion

The show is produced by Jim Stuckman and Tristan James.

Sinise spoke with reporters for a few minutes shortly before going on stage.

Sinise and his band were introduced by 101st Airborne Division Commander Maj. Gen. James McConville, and Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient Drew Dix.

In 1968 Dix risked his life rescuing helpless civilians from the horror of the North Vietnamese Tet offensive. In doing so he became the first enlisted man in Special Forces to be awarded the Medal of Honor.

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Bill Larson
Bill Larson
Bill Larson is  is politically and socially active in the community. Bill is a member of the Friends of Dunbar Cave. You can reach him via telephone at 931-249-0043 or via the email address below.
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