Update 4: We're back!!! Seventeen days after departure and we're back in Australia with 12 shows and a million memories behind us. The Australian Defence Force is involved in 2 operations in the Middle East. Troops in Operation Catalyst (Afghanistan) and Operation Slipper (Iraq) are stationed at major military bases in Tarin Kowt, Kabul, Kandahar, Baghdad and Tallil and we entertained most of our Australian guys & girls, along with our American, British & Dutch coalition partners, at all of these bases. We cannot say enough positive things about our soldiers over there. They are doing a great job and are very well respected by everyone that they come in contact with…… including the guys on the other side!!!
We discovered a new standard in transport when we boarded the Hercules that transported us from base to base. This was “cargo” class…. no flight attendants; no drink or food service; no seat numbers, in fact not really any seats- we were squashed in like sardines with all the pallets of band gear and baggage…. And because we were frequently in active war zones we mostly wore our body armour & helmets, with gas masks, balaclavas & flash goggles at the ready….. Not comfortable for a six hour trip! Despite the discomfort, we were very aware of what an amazing job the aircrews and loaders did just to deliver us safely. Thanks guys….well dodged!
Even though our soldiers are under pressure, and working in terrible conditions, the Australian sense of humour always manages to surface... These guys (below) brought along their own grandstand for the show! Queenslanders by any chance???
Hey, and don't be fooled by the XXXX signs.... There was no alcohol to be had anywhere.... just stuff they call "near beer" which is simply beer with NO alcohol. We thought we would dehydrate until we discovered there were pallets of bottled water everywhere we went.... and of course there were lots of Porta Loos too.
We went to entertain the troops, not expecting anything in return, but we got back more than money could ever buy…..
* an insight into our soldiers life and world in a war zone
** the experience, first hand, of the professionalism of our Australian Soldiers
*** the privilege of a glimpse into the cradle of civilisation dating back 4000 years at the City of Ur
**** seeing the fast disappearing relics of the world of Saddam Hussein
***** insights into cultures very different from our own
****** the reward of putting a smile on the faces of our troops
Darcy, Chris & John in Saddam's Chair!
Outside one of Saddam's seven palaces.
Thanks to everyone for their interest & support.
Darcy, Chris & John.
Update 3: Well, the guys have completed all their shows in the Middle East ! Darcy, Chris & John are physically & emotionally drained- none of them had any real idea of how important this Middle East Tour de Force would be for so many people…and we won't hear the real stories until they are back on home soil.
We've had some very cool emails, here are a few snippets:
Email 1: “….my husband is currently deployed to iraq with the australian army. he called me today after seeing the tour de force show. he really enjoyed the show. it was great to hear him so animated and excited about going back again tonight. The fact that you guys are there supporting the troops really made a difference to him.”
Email 2: “Full marks to you for what you are doing. Take care and stay safe.”
Email 3: “Great to hear from you guys - and pretty mindblowing that the boys are over in ME. Wow! Suppose they'll be mistaken for locals?? Naaaaaahhh. Huh.”
Email 4: I hope they have a great time and don't scare the locals too much.”
Email 5: ”Very cool - thanks for the news - keep em coming! I just heard John speaking to "Maca" on the ABC roughly @ 6.20 am - hope you had prior warning so you were up & listening. Excellent interview. They are doing a great job for the troops & Australia.”
The guys will be back on deck this weekend, with a gig on Friday at Shellharbour Workers Club, Saturday at Batemans Bay Soldiers Club, and Sunday at St Georges Basin Country Club. We are thinking that they will be full of stories at these gigs! - all fingers crossed that they get home in time!!!
From all of us here in the Wolves Den, we have missed them, and it will be great to have them back home safe and sound.
Soldiers from Australian & Netherlands Depence Force gather to see a show at Camp Holland, Tarin Kowt - Afghanistan.
The Wolves perform a song which puts a smile on the face of the guitarist in the RAN Band. Wonder what song Darcy is singing?
John performs a song - Maybe it's 'Don't Look Now'.
Hmmm - 'Don't Look Now' Chris is about to hang his boobs out! Looks as if the guys are really enjoying this.- Check out the dust on the boots!
Darcy & John on stage.
Photos - Courtesy of the Royal Australian Defence Department.
Update 2: The Wolves are well and truly into their Tour now - they did a gig back in Kuwait last night (Wednesday)..... All the shows in Afghanistan are finished and it seems security is not so tight now that they are out of there. You will be happy to know that their shows are being well received.
The trip from Afghanistan was long and probably stressful (definitely not First Class seats) but they sound relaxed & relieved to be back in Kuwait.
Most of their luggage was left at Kuwait when they first arrived, and they just took a backpack each of clothes & personal stuff into Afghanistan, so the opportunity to get some fresh clothes would be a plus.... according to Darcy you don't perspire in that climate so you can keep wearing things….. We're not so sure! Other stories heard were that their uniforms are the same colour as the dust, so you don't notice if their dirty!!!! Hmmm!
Somewhere along the way they got to play some boys' games - target practise, obviously a highlight for them! They have all talked about it - apparently, John scored 97/100...& was told he should join up!!! Darcy and Chris haven't told us what they scored yet. But yes, we can just imagine 'Major John', sounds good John! What we really want to know is who they got to be the target to encourage John to be so accurate?
On a more serious note, they are just blown away by the Australian's over there - the job they are doing; the sacrifices they are making; the conditions they cope with.... and on top of that how popular they are with the other nationalities.... the guys are sounding very “Proud to be Australian”!!!! It's ironic that John & Darcy were finally prompted to take out Australian Citizenship to do this tour.
Keep checking for our 3rd update, meanwhile at around 12.15 tomorrow (Friday 11th April) John should be talking to Ray Hadley on 2GB, so we may find out more then.
Update 1: The Wolves are doing well in the Middle East , but we aren't going to hear too many details until they return……They have been able to phone home frequently and occasionally use their mobiles, but for security reasons, their reports are very short on detail! Most significant moments of the trip over seem to have been, 1 lost boarding pass, 1 passport left at the customs desk and a case of CDs found, 2 days later, in the Darwin International Terminal (we won't mention which Wolverine…) and that was all before they left Australia! Initially they seemed more concerned with their personal comfort (or lack of…), apparently a Hercules ride in full armour and helmet isn't very comfortable…. and the beds aren't quite like home! We have heard some stories about one Wolverine hogging 3 pillows, while the other 2 have none!!
But now, four shows into the tour, they are talking enthusiastically about the performances and how receptive their audiences have been. They have played to less than a 100 somewhere remote and to a huge multicultural crowd somewhere big…. sounds like they were quite surprised at how much the, to mention a few, Dutch, French, Turkish concert goers enjoyed their part of the show.
They have been lucky enough to visit a few interesting places. They went to a Bazaar one day and got to buy a few nick knacks as souvenirs. Each of them were accompanied by an armed guard, and if they strayed from the guard, they would have been arrested. Hopefully they will explain this a little more when they get back, but it sounds as if they are being well cared for.
Having packed for heat & sun in the desert, they've found themselves in less than 10 degrees with snow on the surrounding hills (hills within rocket range). One particularly hairy Wolverine is not letting his leather jacket out of his sight or off his back….. good thing he took his wife's advice when he was packing! One other Wolverine, left his jacket in Kuwait, so guess what he bought at the Bazaar?
Part 1: The Wolves have left their comfort zone and headed to the Middle East to entertain our Australian troops. Fellow entertainers on the tour include singers Angry Anderson, Ami Williamson & Brielle Davis, comedian Fred Lang & MC Tania Zaetta, as well as a very talented 12 piece Navy Band.
This will be an opportunity for a real insight into entertaining within a war zone as ABC-TV producer Wendy Page and her crew are with the tour to record a program for Australian Story.
The Wolves' previous experience with the Defence Forces occurred last year when they shot a video clip for “The Ballad of Young Bobby Dale” on board HMAS Kanimbla…. whilst that was a whole lot fun, it did give them an understanding & appreciation of just how our forces live & work……. this trip promises to expand on that immeasurably.
“ This is a great opportunity for us and Country Music in general to show our appreciation to all of Australia's forces currently serving our country under difficult circumstances, we were proud to be asked to go and proud to be able to contribute” said John Clinton.
Organised by FACE (Forces Advisory Council on Entertainment), the first Middle East “Tour de Force” was back in 2003 - our entertainers had not gone to a war zone since the Vietnam War. This is the 9th Middle East “Tour de Force”.
John, Chris & Darcy in their Uniforms.