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Petty Officer 2nd Class Kelly Ontiveros, Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa
CAMP LEMONIER, Djibouti - 05.19.2009
Celebrities visited service members here during the Hollywood Handshake Tour May 15-16.
Christian Slater, Zac Levi, Joel Moore, and Kal Penn made the visit to personally thank members for their sacrifice and dedication.
"I have such a respect for the military," said Zac Levi of NBC's action series "Chuck." "To be a part of something so important, not just to our country but to the whole world, I really think it's cool."
The line to meet celebrities started forming early Friday evening inside the recreation area and concluded at 10:30 p.m. Then on Saturday morning, the celebrities set up to greet service members at a special brunch coordinated by Morale, Welfare, and Recreation staff members.
"It was awesome, it makes you feel appreciated," said Hospitalman Dina Iacobucci, who had her picture taken with and received autographs from her favorite celebrities.
"I didn't know exactly what to expect," said actor Christian Slater, who appreciated the large turnout. "We are grateful for the men and women who are making such incredible sacrifices, and doing such great humanitarian things."
According to writer and producer Jeremy Boering, the celebrities wanted to experience firsthand what it was like to meet and interact with service members and hear their stories.
Boering said, "This whole experience has been amazingly rewarding. I'm convinced the military either creates the best people in the world or recruits them."
In addition to meeting with service members, celebrities also visited Douda Village, the boys and baby orphanages, and the Djibouti Cheetah Refuge.
The tour, which was funded by the USO, also received donations from corporations such as Coca-Cola and AT&T, as well as, private donations from service members and civilians.
"The wonderful thing about all of the activities is that it was a joint effort - MWR and military. I worked with many, many people to arrange the visits," said Karen Rhodes, MWR staff member.
The tour officially started May 10 with a visit to Bahrain, then flew out to the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington, and finished at Camp Lemonier.