Country Music Singer Michael Peterson performs during a United Service Organization show in front of Sailors at Naval support facility, Bahrain. U.S. Air Force photo

'A smile and a laugh'

Michael Peterson isn't in Iraq performing for U.S. servicemembers over the holidays to promote a message. The country music star and American Legion Legacy Scholarship fund spokesman is there to entertain and provide a respite for the men and women thousands of miles away from their families.

"My feeling is that during the holidays especially, a lot of people are going over (to Iraq) and giving these guys a lot of messages," Peterson said. "I want to just go over there and give them a good time. If I can bring a smile and a laugh, that's enough."

Peterson boarded a plane from Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 22 for the long ride to Kuwait. Retired U.S. Army Col. Jill Chambers, Peterson's managing partner, said in an e-mail to The American Legion this morning that Peterson will be traveling to six forward-operating bases in the next two days. Chambers said Peterson also has been encouraging servicemembers to seek out their local American Legion posts when they return home.

It's the second such trip Peterson has made to Iraq; he's also traveled to Afghanistan twice on similar troop-support efforts.

"I just want to share my music and share a touch of home with the men and women who are so far from home," Peterson said. "I am so in awe of the importance of what these men and women are doing, and I think that a lot of people really don't think about that. This is my chance to serve, and it's a privilege for me. It just feels good to me."

Peterson was the 2008 recipient of the Bob Hope "Spirit Of Hope" award for his service to the United States and its military. He also raises funds for the Legacy Scholarship fund through the sale of DVDs.

Check back to The American Legion Web site in the future for video of Peterson's trip to Iraq.