Warriors receive comic relief on deployment

| September 23, 2010 | 0 Comments
Story and Photo by
Spc. Robert M. England
2nd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs, 25th Infantry Division
Bill Dykes (right), a comedian from Houston, exchanges a handshake with a 2nd BCT, 25th ID Soldier during an autograph signing at the Faulkenberg Theater on FOB Warhorse, Sept. 12. Dykes is part of a comic trio touring FOBs in Iraq during the month of September.FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARHORSE, Iraq — Laughter filled the Faulkenberg Theater, here, and echoed off the thin wooden walls, as the man on stage spouted jokes about the humorous aspects of his relationship with his wife, the late-night menu at Taco Bell and Justin Timberlake. His witty punch lines had the crowd in an uproar, granting him a thunderous round of applause at the end of his routine.

Derek Vana, a stand-up comedian, was part of a comic trio that toured several FOBs in Iraq during the month of September, putting on shows for Soldiers from 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, for the sole purpose of entertaining troops and helping them enjoy an evening, despite being deployed.

Lone Wolf Entertainment, an entertainment booking company, hired Vana, Scott White and Bill Dykes to come to Iraq to provide comic relief to deployed soldiers. The three comedians submitted tapes of their routines to the entertainment agency, and after review, Lone Wolf Entertainment booked them for the tour.

Dykes said he enjoys performing for deployed troops. He is a veteran of Iraq, as his passport would indicate, and a FOB Warhorse alumnus.

“Our whole reason for coming out here was the Soldiers,” Dykes said. “It’s definitely not for the sight-seeing.”

When the comedians are not performing for troops, they do the same thing stateside for their civilian audiences – minus the body armor and Blackhawk helicopter transportation. Though their duties are not as life threatening, the comics can relate to Soldiers, as their jobs often require them to travel. Each of them deals with separation from family and friends as Soldiers do, but on a much smaller scale.

“It’s not so hard for me being away, because my wife and I are used to text messages, phone calls, e-mails (and) stuff like that,” Vana said. “The accessibility in the states is really easy, I can always text her (and) call her.”

Dykes had a few words of encouragement for Soldiers experiencing difficulty with the separation from loved ones back in America.

“Despite the distance, people are still there with you; it’s hard to remember when that connection is so spaced out, but it’s still there,” he said. “You just have to value the fact that you have it and hold onto that.”

Vana served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1998 to 2001, and although he may not have served during Operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom or New Dawn, he shed some light on the issue of separation from a different perspective. 

“It’s almost as hard for families back home as it is for the Soldiers here,” he said. “Soldiers here have their family, their platoon, their company. For people back home, it might be just them (or) they just have their small group of friends.”

Soldiers filed out of the theater following the conclusion of the comics’ show, still laughing about various jokes told throughout the night. Despite the fact that being deployed is no laughing matter, Soldiers still managed to relax and enjoy themselves for an evening.


Category: Deployed Forces, News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *