News>Ensuring service members and their families know that their sacrifices are appreciated
Gary Sinise kicks off the Lt. Dan band's performance by joining the crowd during a concert on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson June 22, 2012. The band perform regularly for troops in appreciation for their service, and the actor/musician also participates in other charitable events such as parades. Sinise is perhaps best known for his role as Lt. Dan in Forest Gump, and has made appearances in many other films and shows including the currently running CSI: NY. (U.S. Force photo/Staff Sgt. Robert Barnett)
Gary Sinise, center, and the Lt. Dan band perform sound checks prior to their concert on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson June 22, 2012. The band perform regularly for troops in appreciation for their service, and the actor/musician also participates in other charitable events such as parades. Sinise is perhaps best known for his role as Lt. Dan in Forest Gump, and has made appearances in many other films and shows including the currently running CSI: NY. (U.S. Force photo/Staff Sgt. Robert Barnett)
by Air Force Staff Sgt. Robert Barnett
JBER Public Affairs
6/27/2012 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Actor and musician Gary Sinise paid his second visit to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson to give back to those who serve through a free Lt. Dan Band concert June 22.
"We're back at JBER to play for our military folks up here, service members and their families," the actor said. "We were here in September a couple years ago and I've been wanting to get back. Thankfully, with the USO and Triwest Health Care Alliance, we've been able to be back, they have graciously taken care of the expenses so my band can come up so we can play for our service members and families."
The band played in Fairbanks Saturday, and Kodiak on Monday.
"It's an ongoing mission to make sure that the men and women who are serving our country know that they are appreciated," he said.
"That's why I continue to go out and do it. I've been teamed up with the USO for almost 10 years now. I've probably done almost 200 USO shows alone, and there are military charities that we play for and other military concerts or support concerts.
"I've got a foundation that's all military support and is dedicated to giving back to our men and women, so it's a very, very active schedule and once I start shooting my show, CSI: NY, in about a month, it'll get a little crazier because there's a lot of travel."
Sinise said he started out playing in bands in high school.
"I had my own bands all the way through high school and up into my early 20s," he said. "I started playing jazz bass in my early 20s and at the same time I was acting in high school plays.
"I started (with) the theater company. I got very busy with acting and so I didn't play music for a long time. Then this band just sort of evolved and I got very serious about it. We're probably playing 50 shows this year ... most of them are in support of the military. I feel fortunate that I can make my living as an actor and have fun and do something good with the music."
Sinise is perhaps most well-known for his role as Lt. Dan Taylor in the movie "Forrest Gump." He said he wanted that role because it told a unique story.
"Anything that had anything to do with a Vietnam veteran showed him as somebody that couldn't overcome his experience," he said. "Forrest Gump comes along, and you see the Vietnam veteran go to be a great Soldier and that gets taken away.
"He gets injured and gets depressed and goes through a lot of anguish and all that, but then he comes out on top and he's okay in the end. He's wealthy and he's a businessman and things are going well. That was the story of a lot of Vietnam veterans."
Sinise's family also served.
"I have Vietnam veterans on my wife's side of the family," he said. "On my side of the family, my dad was in the Navy; my grandfather was in the Army in World War I. My two uncles served in World War II; one was a navigator on a B-17 bomber over Europe and the other in the Pacific.
"I remember all too well what it was like for them when they came home from war and nobody cared. Nobody appreciated them, that they in fact were treated very shamefully, so we can't ever let that happen again."
Sinise said he wants military to know they are appreciated.
"As long as the military folks are out there doing what they do in defense of our country," he said, "they should have the knowledge that there are people that appreciate them and don't forget about those sacrifices."