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STEPHEN AUSTIN TOUR

Stephen Austin (that wonderful Pak'Ma'Ra Ambassador from Babylon 5) is on tour with our troups in the Middle East. Here is his trip report -- and think you will enjoy it! We should all give Stephen and his merry band a round of applause for not only taking the time to provide some enjoyment to our troups -- but putting themselves in harm's way in an effort to lighten the load of our troups abroad:

Hi All. Well I'm into my final week of this Mid-East tour. We've just finished a show for one of the outlying bases here in Iraq. We'll be in Iraq until Monday when we'll fly back to Kuwait for the night and then leave for home on Tuesday via London.

When last I wrote, we had just finished our show outside of Kabul, Afghanistan. Interesting story. We we're returning to Bagwha Air Base, driving down the only road which connects it from Kabul. It turns out that an U.S. Army convoy travelling down the same road, about 45 mins ahead of us, came under attack. When we got to where they were, they had pulled off to the side of the road, soldiers posted around every truck and Blackhawk helicopters providing air cover. Dorothy, we're not watching CNN anymore.

Anyway, we finished up our stay in Afghanistan with a show at Kandahar Air Base and then we left for Pakistan. We literally went from 40 degree temps during the day where we needed heavy coats at night to 97 degree temps with 100% humidity. We we're quartered in spaces within their base hanger. The hanger is also where we did our show. Actually it was a great time. The base personnel (not that many at this time) put on a barbecue for us and that evening us comics formed our own volleyball team and took on all comers. We did pretty well. Won 3 out of 5 games. That's when me and my bum knee had to pull out. Damnit. A detachmernt of Pakistan air force personnel then challenged us. I had to sit it out but the other guys, along with some Air Force carried on and put on a good showing.

From Pakistan to Qatar, just north of Saudi Arabia. Serious desert. Two huge U.S. Bases there including Headquaters for the entire U.S. Central Command. One show was the biggest show of our tour. There we're literally 700+ people. It was incredible. The other show at another base was great as well but not nearly as large an audience.

From Qatar to Djibouti on the Horn of Africa, between Somalia and Ethiopia. Believe it or not there's a U.S. Base there. Another great show. This one was one of our smaller ones but most of the time, those are the ones I like the most. You really get to spend time with the men and women stationed there.

From Djibouti to Kuwait. Another large couple of bases. We went from one of the poorest countries I've ever been to; to probably one of the richest in the world. What a trip. We did 2 shows in Kuwait. Our first show was at a base right on the border with Iraq. In fact, according to the maps. We were technically in Iraq for a few moments in route. This is were I start meeting people like 19 year-old Amee from Wisconsin, who just a few weeks ago had a grenade go off a few feet from her. She still has little hearing in her left ear.

And now, we're in Iraq. Flew in today wearing Kevlar vest and helmet. These are the guys. The ones you see on TV and read about in the papers. They keep telling us how grateful they are we're here and how they appreciate what we're doing. Hell, what we're doing? These are the heros. The ones who get up everyday. Strap on their body armour; lock and load ther weapons and then go out into this world. What we're doing? I have never been more humbled by anything then I am by this. God bless and keep each of them.

By the way; what's the deal with these Humvees? These are the biggest SUV's I've ever seen...from the outide. I sit in this thing and I wish I had studied yoga. There's more room in a PT Cruiser. And Arnold owns one?

I'm not sure I'll be getting of anymore tour reports. We've got shows every night until we leave and everyday's a travel day. For those of you using a map, we will be in Nasarah, Balad, Telil and Mosul. No driving. All by Blackhawkes. I am so looking forward to going into a coma for at least 2 days when I get home.

Miss you all. Thanks to those who have written and voiced your support. I am touched by much of what you have written. Be good to each other.

Stephen