By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
April 22, 2009 - Max Martini, who plays Army Master Sgt. Mack Gerhardt in the CBS show "The Unit," raced up a steep hill at a combat outpost in 28 seconds. "I can't be beat by an actor," said one real soldier, who raced up the same course in 24 seconds. Cheers resounded.
The good-hearted race was part of a USO show that Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, brought to Afghanistan today. On what's known as a "handshake tour," Mullen brought long-time Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, basketball hall of famer David Robinson, as well as Martini and fellow cast members of "The Unit," Dennis Haysbert and Robert Patrick to meet, speak to -- and compete with -- U.S. servicemembers at out-of-the way bases.
"They bring a little bit of America to the troops," Mullen said. "I try to bring USO entertainers on as many of the trips as I can, because they do brighten everybody's day."
Mullen praised the USO troupe for its commitment to servicemembers. "I'm delighted that they would take their personal time to do this," Mullen said.
Lasorda praised the young men and women he met, saying they "are what America is all about."
Robinson, who graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and served as a naval officer before his professional basketball career with the San Antonio Spurs, said he is impressed by the commitment the servicemembers show. "These are men and women who walk our streets, but understand why it is important to serve," he said.
In addition to its visit here, the troupe visited Forward Operating Base Airborne and Combat Outpost Deysie today.