Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class Scott Wood, Navy Public Affairs Support Element, Det. Northwest
OAK HARBOR, Wash. (NNS) – Naval Air Station Whidbey Island (NASWI) hosted Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band Friday, July 14 on Whidbey Island.
Capt. Geoffrey Moore, commanding officer of NASWI, walked up onstage, giving the band its proper introduction.
“In 2004, he put together the Lt. Dan Band,” said Moore, “featuring some of the most patriotic and world famous musicians that have served our country, going around the world to treat our service members to a morale boost and showing that America cares… and now, let me bring on the band, Lt. Dan Band, featuring Chief Petty Officer Gary Sinise!”
The crowd cheered as Gary Sinise came onstage, hands in the air, beckoning the crowd to come closer.
Sinise, who is well known for his role as Lt. Dan in the movie “Forrest Gump”, among several other roles in movies and television shows, formed the band along with his foundation, the Gary Sinise Foundation, to provide morale, recognition and support to the military and its family members.
“After 9/11, I wanted to make sure the military folks always knew there was a grateful nation,” said Sinise
“I had pals that I played with,” said Sinise “I thought it’d be fun, you know, to put on a show. The USO let me do that. I loved it so much and the USO seemed to enjoy (it so much) that they didn’t hear we were terrible,” Sinise said before the concert, laughing as he recalled the band’s first few shows.
Sinise went on to explain how precious these concerts were, and that each moment he got to spend with the troops was entirely worth it.
“We’d come into a place and there’d be a line of a thousand folks, and they were going to have two seconds to get a picture. I realized very quickly that the little moments you spend with folks in the battle zone can seem like a pretty long moment if you do it right, cause you never know who you’re talking to and what might happen to them in the next hour.”
Sinise mentioned a few parents have come to him and said those pictures were the last their children had ever taken.
“I never take for granted what I’m doing here for the military.”
Sinise also took the time to pin Logistics Specialist 1st Class Tobias Stienwing, assigned to Commander, Electronic Attack Wing, U.S. Pacific Fleet (COMVAQWINGPAC), during Stienwing’s meritorious promotion ceremony.
“So it’s just all about how he loves the military that it’s making me more and more of a fan the more I actually talk about him.” Stienwing said about Sinise, just before his promotion and pinning.
The crowd also recognized this respect and dedication for the military as the concert began. Hundreds of people stood cheering and singing along, their arms raised with many hands holding phones to take pictures of the moment, all to remember the appreciation they were given by Sinise and his Lt. Dan Band.
When asked what people could do to show their respect for the military, Sinise responded simply, “Just look in your neighborhood. Start there. Reach out to them, anybody can do that.”