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Kellie Pickler performs on stage in front of Combat Center Marines May 19, 2012, at Lance Cpl. Torrey L. Gray Field.

Photo by Lance Cpl. D. J. Wu

Star struck

11 Jan 2013 | Cpl Dietz

These photos are in my top shots not only because of my respect for the woman in the photos, but the terrible misconception I had about her.

Kellie Pickler was coming to the Combat Center and I jumped to volunteer for the story. I want to meet her! I’m pretty sure I’m the only country music fan in my office anyway.

While I was a fan of her music, I had no idea what she was like as a person.

I don’t want to look stupid by not knowing anything about her. I flipped on good ol’ Youtube to do my research. I found a bunch of videos of her in her early career, many of which didn’t impress me much. She portrayed herself as a space cadet mostly.

I chuckled at the thought of a popular country artist being a … as much as I hate to say it … a stereotypical blonde.

The interview came. My nerves were going crazy, I was so excited to meet her. I was jumping inside from excitement.

When she walked in the room. TOTAL SHOCK. This petite woman, with a tiny, fragile-looking frame and little to no fat on her, shook my hand like the down-home country girl she is. I had to step back and shake out my hand.

 No ditzy blonde shakes hands like that, she’s hardcore.

I froze, wide-eyed and feeling naïve for believing those videos on Youtube.

She was really sweet and took time to welcome every fan that got special passes to meet her to sign autographs and pictures.

She took an instant liking to me and sat down for the interview.

“Do you care if I eat during this darlin’?” I’m starving,” she said.

Of course not! I thought. I’m sitting down face-to-face with Kellie Pickler.

She grabbed a cheeseburger and fries and talked away.

Our 15 minute interview turned into 45 minutes. We talked about everything, home life, military life, her tour; we were having a good conversation and I almost forgot I was interviewing her.

We talked so long I thought she was going to be late for her own concert.

One thing that struck me about her was her deep respect for the military. She would do anything short of enlisting herself to support us.

When we were wrapping the interview up, I thanked her for her time and was heading for the door when she said, ‘Wait!”

I turned around and she wrapped her arms around me and gave me this big hug. Whoah!

She was aware I was told by management that I was not allowed on stage, “You are coming on stage with me,” she said. My jaw dropped. Is she serious?!

“I want you to get all the pictures you need,” she raised her eyebrows as if they were telling me not to argue.  Psh…OK!

The concert was so full of energy and she let me stand right behind her to get all the pictures I needed — some of which are going in my portfolio. Coolest shoot I’ve done this year I think.

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms