by Senior Airman Benjamin Stratton
379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
5/29/2013 – SOUTHWEST ASIA — American Actors Kal Penn and Kate Walsh visited the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing here May 26 during a USO Handshake Tour with stops including the Intra-theater Care Program, a B-1B Lancer facility, military working dogs demonstration and a Patriot missile facility, as well as, a meet-and-greet at the base club.
“I’m hugely grateful for everything you guys are doing here,” said Kate Walsh, whose father served in the Korean War. “We couldn’t do what we do without you.”
They were able to visit many aspects of the wing’s mission, but one thing stood out above all others for Penn and Walsh.
“The diversity here is amazing,” Penn said. “It’s great to see how efficient your operations are.”
Penn recently returned from a two-year sabbatical during which he served as an associate director for the White House Office of Public Engagement. Among his many tasks, he also worked on programs assisting employment and health benefits for returning veterans.
Walsh related military operations to life on set, saying it takes so many different people from so many different backgrounds and specialties to bring a production together.
“Except what you do is real,” she said. “I didn’t expect to see all this energy and discipline. It’s beautiful what 8,000 people with differing personalities can do when they come together and make this production a reality.”
But at the end of the day, Penn and Walsh said the greatest thing about their visit was getting to know the people serving here.
“It’s been great sitting around and talking with people,” said Walsh. “It’s great to hear their stories and understand where they came from.”
Similarly, Penn found he has connections to many people deployed here, especially those from his home state of New Jersey.
“On a tour like this, you meet so many people,” he said. “But it’s not until you really take the time to get to know them. This personal interaction makes a huge difference for our servicemembers who are deployed here away from their family and friends. Thank you for what you do for us; we all really appreciate your sacrifice.”