MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
The Combat Center’s Sunset Cinema was filled with Marines, sailors and friends, March 12, 2011 pumped up to hear a performance by Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band.
Gary Sinise, known for his role as the salty amputee veteran shrimper, Lt. Dan, in the movie “Forrest Gump,” and his role in the weekly show “CSI: Miami,” has been coming to the Combat Center with his band for seven years, working closely with the USO.
“I’m part of a team, and we do what we can,” Sinise said. “I want to show them we don’t forget what they do for us.”
The night also focused on the DSTRESS program, encouraging Marines to reach out and talk to someone about personal battles.
“We are doing everything we can to keep our defenders strong,” Sinise said. “I know how important it is to keep them strong; I have Vietnam [veterans] in my family.”
To speak to the Marines about the program and encourage them to take advantage of it, Jay Vargas, a Medal of Honor recipient and Vietnam veteran, spoke to the crowd before the concert.
“It took me a long time to open up,” Vargas said. “This program is great, and I encourage you to call the number.”
The band played an assortment of familiar songs from a variety of genres, making it easy for the audience to dance and sing along with their favorite tunes.
The band also involved the audience, randomly pulling people on-stage to sing along with the group.
The night even included a theater-wide conga line.
Many of the volunteers for the event were excited about Sinise’s appearance, and said they just “had to get in on it.”
“He’s my favorite actor,” said Pfc. Cody Bowen, a student at the Marine Corps Communication-Electronics School and volunteer at the event. “It’s awesome that somebody so big takes the time to come here.”
The night ended with Brig. Gen. H. Stacy Clardy III, the installation’s commanding general, presenting a Marine Corps running suit with “Lt. Dan” embroidered on the back to Gary Sinise.