Archive for Thursday, May 14, 2009

Sinise, Lt. Dan Band make return trip to Fort Leavenworth

Actor Gary Sinise brought his Lt. Dan Band to Fort Leavenworth on Friday.

Actor Gary Sinise brought his Lt. Dan Band to Fort Leavenworth on Friday.

May 14, 2009

By now, actor and musician Gary Sinise says he’s used to hearing an all-too familiar movie line: “Lieutenant Dan, you’ve got no legs!”

“I say, ‘Hey, I’ve never heard that before,’” Sinise, who received an Oscar nomination for playing the memorable “Forrest Gump” character, said jokingly in a news conference prior to Friday night’s Lt. Dan Band United Service Organizations concert at Fort Leavenworth.

The concert, sponsored by TriWest Healthcare Alliance, was in conjunction with the armywide Military Spouse Appreciation Day, which Fort Leavenworth celebrated with food, an inflatable obstacle course and a ceremony that included a proclamation in support of Military Spouse Appreciation Day and the presentation of certificates of appreciation to several military spouses.

Following the ceremony, the Lt. Dan Band took to the Fort Leavenworth stage, but not for the first time. The 12-member cover band, which has toured with the USO on more than 28 tours overseas and here in the ’States, made a stop at Fort Leavenworth in 2007. Sinise said the post had a special place in his heart because of his brother-in-law, Lt. Col. Boyd Harris, who was posted at Fort Leavenworth and died of cancer there a number of years ago.

“I’m glad to be back at Leavenworth,” Sinise said.

During Friday night’s concert, the Lt. Dan Band, for which Sinise plays the bass, performed such diverse covers as Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Teenage Wasteland,” by The Who. During a rousing rendition of LaBelle’s “Lady Marmalade,” members of the Lt. Dan band showed their own appreciation for military spouses by inviting a group of women from the audience to come up and dance with them onstage.

Sinise said the Lt. Dan Band had performed 30 to 40 shows at U.S. military sites, and these shows were important to both service members and their families because of the message of support it sends them.

“We can’t forget our troops are out there, and they’re deployed,” he said in the news conference. “I think it’s very important to keep them in our thoughts and prayers.”

Sinise also took the time to talk about Operation Iraqi Children, a Kansas City-based foundation he co-founded with “Seabiscuit: An American Legend” author Laura Hillenbrand. The purpose of the foundation is to send school supplies to young students in Iraq. Sinise said the foundation had already sent upwards of 300,000 supplies and other necessities, such as soccer balls and shoes, to Iraqi children.

“It’s all part of a mission to try to do something positive for somebody,” Sinise said of the foundation and the Lt. Dan Band. “It’s just a way to help.”

Sinise has a long list of films to his credit and has won several awards, including a Golden Globe and a Screen Actor’s Guild award. He was the executive producer on the film, “Brothers At War,” and plays a regular role on “CSI: NY.” He says he’s happy with his success, but finds it equally rewarding to pay it forward when he can. This is why he spends the 11 weeks he has off of “CSI: NY” every year touring with the USO.

“I’ve been blessed with a great career and good fortune,” Sinise said. “This is a way to give back. And it’s fun.”

Sinise might never live down the role he played in “Forrest Gump,” and he said it was the reason he chose that particular name for his band — as a way to embrace what he was probably never going to be able to avoid in his lifetime. Though he said, as names go, it wasn’t so bad.

“I could be called a lot worse things than ‘Lieutenant Dan,’” he said.

The Lt. Dan Band gave another Kansas performance Saturday, May 8, at Fort Riley’s Marshall Army Airfield.

To find out more about Operation Iraqi Children, visit operationiraqichildren.org.

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