By Monique Reuben
WASHINGTON, July 27, 2006 – More than 100 servicemembers and their families and friends watched Grammy award-winning rock band "Train" perform at their sold-out concert July 24, compliments of Northrop Grumman and the United Service Organizations of Metropolitan Washington. Northrop Grumman Corp., a defense contracting company, offered the USO of Metropolitan Washington 150 tickets to give to servicemembers. The two organizations also sponsored a barbecue dinner for servicemembers and their guests before the concert at Wolf Trap Farm Park for the Performing Arts in Vienna, Va.
Servicemembers from the Washington, D.C., area, including patients from Walter Reed Army Medical Center here, attended the dinner and concert. Army Spc. Doug Berdan, who has been undergoing treatment at Walter Reed for a leg injury suffered in Iraq in January, said he is a fan of the band. "I enjoy Train's music very much. There was a little advertisement for the concert at the hospital, and it seemed like a fun thing to check out," Berdan said.
"It's nice to get away from the hospital and the area up there and just to get out and do more normal activities, especially for people like myself, who are being released from duty, a chance to get back into more of a civilian lifestyle and a chance to hang out with other guys that have been through the same thing," Berdan said. Joseph Briseno Sr. said he decided to come to the reception on behalf of his son, 23-year-old Army Spc. Joseph Briseno Jr., who was critically injured in Iraq in June 2003.
The senior Briseno, who is a retired Army staff sergeant, said his son is paraplegic after suffering a spinal cord injury and could not attend the event. "It's very important, for me at least, that I'm here to represent my son and all the wounded warriors," the Manassas Park, Va., resident said.
Army Staff Sgt. Kristy Ligon said she appreciated not having to pay for the concert and noted that many servicemembers simply can't afford to attend such events. "(Northrup Grumman's) willingness to support the troops, like a lot of other companies, shows that the nation is behind us and shows that we have support other than just our fellow family members and friends telling us that we did a good job," she said.
Jerry Agee, a corporate vice president and president of Northrop Grumman's Mission Systems sector, said sponsoring the concert with the USO was a way to show gratitude to servicemembers.
Agee, who retired as a naval officer 20 years ago, said he admires what the USO does for servicemembers and is honored to be working with them to support the armed forces. "Having that military background, I know what the USO means. I know what it meant to me during Vietnam. I know how much I looked forward to seeing groups come out to the carriers and visit and put on shows, and it was greatly appreciated," he said. "And I know that still exists today."
Train singer Pat Monahan said he has visited wounded servicemembers at Walter Reed.
"It's interesting finding the great uplifting spirit they have when they leave the hospital," he said in an interview with the Pentagon Channel shortly before the concert. "These guys were happy to be alive ... for the most part. "They were so thankful to be home, even if it was without something they left with, like an arm.
"I don't think I have the courage to do what those young men and women have done," he added. "If I did have that courage, I would hope to be as at peace with it as they seemed to have been."